UAE’s Etihad Rail has awarded an AED3.3bn ($900m) contract to an Italian-UAE joint venture (JV) comprising of Italy’s Saipem, Tecnimont and UAE-based Dodsal Engineering and Construction to build the first phase of its railway network.

The contract covers the first stage of 266-kilometer rail line linking the cities of Habshan and Ruwais in Abu Dhabi’s by 2013 and Shah and Habshan by 2014.

The project includes civil and track works as well as design, procurement and construction of the rail line, the company said.

In addition to that, the contract includes the earth works and track’s site grading, bridge structures, communication systems, and the development of the depot at Mirfa.

Etihad Rail is planning to build a 1200 km rail network at a cost of $11bn to connect UAE to Saudi Arabia as part of a broader Gulf rail network.

The second phase of the project will connect Abu Dhabi to Jebel Ali in Dubai while the third phase will connect the northern parts of UAE.

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