Etihad Rail has invited bids for the second stage of the national rail project, a phase linking the planned UAE network with other GCC states.
It submitted invitations to companies earlier this month for the first three contracts in the design and build of the network, the rail company said yesterday.
The contract covers lines between Ruwais and Ghweifat, which stretches 137km, and Liwa Junction and Al Ain, spanning a further 190km.
It also covers a contract for signalling, communications and commissioning for the stage-two network.
The process marks the next step in the development of the railway, which is considered a vital asset in the upgrading of the UAE's transport infrastructure.
The UAE Cabinet approved in January a Dh4.7 billion (US$1.28bn) loan to finance construction of the first phase of the development. The first phase will primarily transport sulphur from oil and gasfields to Ruwais.
The second stage will further connect industrial and urban areas.
It will also link up with the proposed GCC network including Saudi Arabia at Ghweifat and Oman at Al Ain.
Construction of phase two is scheduled to start early next year following the award of tendered projects.
Stage-one building started this year near Mirfa in Al Gharbia and it is being developed in partnership with the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, which will use the rail as the main means for transporting granulated sulphur from Shah and Habshan to the port at Ruwais for export.
Only pre-qualified companies will be able to bid for contracts in the second phase.
In October, Etihad Rail signed a Dh3.3bn deal with a consortium led by Saipem, Tecnimont and the UAE's Dodsal Engineering and Construction to build the first link.