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

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. The project has been stalled since 2016.

Abu Dhabi Department of Transport chairman and Etihad Rail board of directors chairman Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan was quoted by the Emirates News Agency as saying: “At Etihad Rail, we are working with a strategy to meet our mission and objectives.

“This project is part of our commitment to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to help it achieve a leading position in transportation quality in line with UAE Vision 2021, which aims to transform the emirate’s economy into a competitive knowledge economy by transitioning to a knowledge-based economy, promoting innovation and research and development, strengthening the regulatory framework for key sectors, and encouraging high value-adding sectors.”

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“This project is part of our commitment to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to help it achieve a leading position in transportation quality.”

Preliminary design works of the second stage are already completed. The tender process for civil construction is expected to begin by the end of this month.

Once complete, the project will increase the volume of goods transported through the rail network from seven million tonnes to more than 50 million tonnes.

The first stage of Etihad Rail national rail network was completed in 2015.

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It involved the construction of 264km of track connecting the Shah and Habshan gas fields located in the Al Dhafra region in Abu Dhabi to the Port of Ruwais.

The first stage received nearly $1.28bn financing from domestic and international banks, reported Reuters.

The Abu Dhabi government holds 70% stake in Etihad Rail, with the remaining 30%  owned by the federal government.