UAE-based Etihad Rail has awarded an AED1.6bn ($435.5m) systems and integration contract to Hitachi Rail STS for stage two of its rail network.

Etihad Rail will be the first national freight and passenger railway network connecting the seven emirates of the UAE. The 1,200km railway project is estimated to cost AED40bn ($11bn).

The second stage of the project involves the construction of a 605km rail link between Ghuweifat on the border with Saudi Arabia and Fujairah on the east coast.

Hitachi Rail will design and build the subsystems along with other stage two works and contracts.

The Japanese company will also be responsible for the management of uptime and operation tests.

Running for a length of 800km, the Hitachi Rail STS power system will become the longest distribution network in the country. It will handle power of 11kV (medium-high power).

The trains that will serve on the network will feature the European signalling system (ETCS level 2) to ensure that they move across GCC countries without halting at the borders.

They will also be equipped with a Crisis Management Unit to communicate with different organisations in the UAE such as the police and civil defence when required.

Equipped with a communications system and modern control centre, the main centre of operations will be located at Faya and another will be located at Mirfa.

Etihad Rail will also install cameras and enforce other security procedures with the police departments in the seven emirates.

The contract was signed by Etihad Rail CEO Shadi Malak and the Hitachi Rail STS CEO Christian Andy.

Japan Ambassador Akihiko Nakajima and Etihad Rail Chairman Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan were also present when agreement were signed.

In June, Etihad Rail awarded contracts to connect Abu Dhabi and Dubai with a rail line.

With a total value of AED4.4bn ($1.2bn), the two contracts encompass civil and track works included in Packages B and C for stage two of the national railway network.

In November, the UAE Ministry of Finance and the Abu Dhabi Department of Finance signed an agreement to fund the second stage of Etihad Rail national rail network.