The UAE-based Etihad Rail has awarded a AED4.6bn ($1.25bn) civil works and construction contract for Package D of stage two of its rail network.

The contract was awarded to the China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC) and National Projects and Construction (NPC) joint venture (JV).

Package D will connect the Fujairah and Khorfakkan ports with the rail network at Dubai-Sharjah border. It will span over 145km.

The JV  will be responsible for building 15 tunnels through the Hajar Mountains, covering a length of 16km. They will also construct 35 bridges and 32 underpasses.

A rail network connection between Fujairah and Khorfakkan ports will allow for the transportation of around two million twenty-foot equivalent container units (TEUs) annually. The UAE expects this to boost international trade.

Etihad Rail will also transport 30 million tonnes of construction material to distribution centres in Abu Dhabi and Dubai every year.

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This package will connect the ports to major centres for manufacturing, production and population.

Emirates News Agency quoted Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed as saying: “The awarding of this contract is a highly significant achievement as Etihad Rail follows its path to progressing one of the most important and economically strategic projects in the UAE.

“While expanding a vital sector that constitutes the lifeline of our national economy, we continue to provide a safe, modern, and sustainable national railway network that meets the aspirations and expectations of our nation and its leaders, supporting the UAE’s position as a major link in the regional and global supply chain, and as a key player in the logistics system.”

In October, Etihad Rail awarded an AED1.6bn ($435.5m) systems and integration contract to Hitachi Rail STS for stage two of its rail network.

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

The contracts have a total value of AED4.4bn ($1.2bn). They encompass both civil and track works in Packages B and C.