UAE's Etihad Rail has floated tenders for the first three contracts of the country's national rail network's second design and construction phase.
The 1,200km rail network is expected to cost around $11bn and is to be carried out in three phases.
The contract will cover a 137km line from Ruwais to Gweifat near the Saudi border, and a 190km section from Liwa Junction to Al Ain on the border with Oman. Work also includes railway integration and systems covering signalling, communications and commissioning.
Tenders for the remaining second phase contracts will be issued over the next few months, Etihad Rail said, while construction is scheduled to follow in early 2013.
The second phase of the project will include constructing depots, passenger stations, freight facilities and marshalling yards, which will be run from an operational control centre.
The project will see the development of utilities, bridge structures and upgrades to existing utilities, as well as project integration, testing and commissioning of the railway section.
The first phase of construction started in 2012 near Mirfa in Al Gharbia and is being developed in partnership with the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), which will use the rail line to transport granulated sulphur from Shah and Habshan to the port at Ruwais for export.
In October 2011, Etihad Rail awarded an AED3.3bn ($900m) contract to an Italian-UAE joint venture, including Saipem, Tecnimont and UAE-based Dodsal Engineering and Construction to build the first phase of its railway network.
The deal covers the 266km rail line that connects the cities of Habshan and Ruwais in Abu Dhabi by 2013, and Shah and Habshan by 2014.
Etihad Rail, which was established to manage the development, construction and operation of the UAE's national freight and passenger railway network, is 70% owned by the government of Abu Dhabi, while the remaining is owned by the country's federal government.