CSCEC wins contract to build rail network in UAE

The UAE has a vision to be at the centre of regional goods movement and to diversify its economy, building up its rail network to oil the wheels of trade and population flows

Etihad Rail, the developer and operator of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) national railway, has awarded a major contract to a joint venture between China State Construction Engineering Corporation Middle East (CSCEC ME) and South Korea's SK Engineering and Construction (SK E&C).

The package A contract forms part of the overall 605-kilometre Stage Two connecting Ruwais with Ghuweifat. Ghuweifat is at the western end of the UAE, located not far from the Saudi border. Ruwais is a coastal town about 139 kilometres away. Stage Two, once complete, will run all the way from Ghuweifat to the Port of Fujairah, which is located on the Gulf of Oman.

Etihad Rail was established in June 2009 with a mandate to manage the development, construction and operation of the UAE’s national freight and passenger railway network.

Etihad Rail is working in line with the objective to further diversify the UAE economy, as set by the UAE Vision 2021 and Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030.

At a ceremony attended by Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the contracts were signed by Shadi Malak, Etihad Rail chief executive officer, Yu Tao, president and chief executive officer of CSCEC ME, and Hyuntae Nam, vice-president of SK E&C.

The contract covers all design and build, civil and track works of the 139-kilometre Package A.

Sheikh Theyab said that the contract announcement was a major milestone, forming an integral part of the organization’s mission to create a modern, sustainable and cost-efficient national railway within the UAE.

“With the commencement of this first phase of Stage Two, we are reaching a major turning point in the transportation sector in the UAE and GCC,” he says. The initial link is just the beginning, as Etihad Rail expands its network to improve all aspects of freight transport across our border and around the region, placing the UAE at the centre of regional goods movement as a global logistics hub.

Etihad Rail is working towards awarding contracts for the rest of Stage Two over the coming months.

Package A of Stage Two, valued at 1.5 billion United Arab Emirates Dirham (US$405 million), will focus on the design and construction of rail infrastructure, including earthworks, bridges, tunnels, animal crossing, track-laying, and linking with Stage One of the network. The line will feature standard-gauge double track.

This 1,200-kilometre Etihad Rail project will link the UAE’s principal centres of industry, manufacturing, production, population, and import/export points, forming an integral part of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) railway network.

The six countries of the GCC comprise Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. This inter-governmental body was created in 1981 and some members are keen for ties to draw even closer.

In February, Sheikh Theyab attended the signing of a head of terms between Etihad Rail and Abu Dhabi Ports, the operator of commercial and community ports within the emirate of Abu Dhabi, as well as Fujairah Terminals and Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (KIZAD), to connect Khalifa Port to the national railway network.

The agreement was signed at Khalifa Port. With more than half of the cargo going to and from the GCC entering and exiting through UAE ports, the link will significantly enhance the capacity of the port. The rail terminal capacity at Khalifa Port is expected to be the largest of its kind within the UAE, accommodating 2.4 million containers annually.

UAE Vision 2021 sets the key themes for the socio-economic development of the UAE, specifically calling for a shift to a diversified and knowledge-based economy. A national railway network to connect the UAE’s key centres of trade and population is an integral component of this vision.

Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030 forms a roadmap for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. It aims to increase GDP contribution from non-oil sectors to over 60% by 2030 with 12 strategic industry sectors identified – including transportation and logistics, and with Etihad Rail being one of the key economic projects.


20 Mar 2019

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