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The UAE's US$10.89bn Etihad Rail project will provide a major stimulus to the country's freight sector, a government official has announced
Rashed Khalaf Al Otaiba, chairman of the UAE's Transport Department, said, “The global crisis highlighted a need for economic diversification and the development of non-oil sectors to fully achieve sustainable economic growth.
"Realising the vital role that the freight sector plays in achieving this goal, the government of Abu Dhabi has focused its efforts on improving the overall performance of the sector.”
Upon completion, the 1.2mn metres project would stretch from Al Ghweifat on the Saudi Arabia border to Ruwais, Liwa, Shah, Dubai, Al Ain, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah and Khor Fakkan.
Of the 13 main transport centres along the network, eight will be located in Abu Dhabi. According to Etihad Rail officials, the project is expected to add US$952.65mn to the UAE's GDP by 2030.
Work has been underway to complete the first of the project’s three stages - a freight line running from the port of Ruwais to Habshan and Shah, which would enhance transport of oil and gas resources to ports on the Gulf coast. Phase 1 is expected to wrap up in 2014, with Phase 2, connecting Abu Dhabi to Dubai, currently in the tendering process.
Etihad Rail officials said that they recently secured US$1.28bn of project financing for Phase 1 from local and international banks.