Etihad Rail, which is building a Dh40 billion($11 billion) train line to link the United Arab Emirates, will award the first construction contracts within two months, its chief executive officer said.
The company will pick from at least 10 local and international bidders, CEO Richard Bowker said in an interview. Work on the project's first phase will begin in the second half, joining up Shah, Habshan and Ruwais in Abu Dhabi.
Construction on the first part of the national 1,200km railway is expected to be completed in 2014. Stage two will link Abu Dhabi and Jebel Ali, and at stage three the railway will be rolled out to the Northern Emirates.
The six Gulf Co-operation Council countries are also ready to establish a rail authority to oversee projects across the region, Mr Bowker said. The UAE network is slated to form the basis for a longer route that could stretch from Oman to Kuwait.
"The authority will be able to establish a technical harmony between the different projects," Mr Bowker said.
Etihad Rail said yesterday it ordered 240 covered wagons from China South Locomotive & Rolling Stock Corporation to carry granulated sulfur on the first stage of the line in Abu Dhabi.
The network is designed to transport about 50 million tonnes of cargo and 16 million passengers, with Etihad Rail prioritising goods and heavy industrial products such as steel, concrete and petrochemicals.