.Union Railway is ready to get rolling on its 1,500km railway across the UAE with a formal invitation to contractors to express their interest in the $11 billion (Dh40.4bn) project. The next step in the enormous procurement and tendering process involved inviting companies as early as this week to register their interest, said Richard Bowker, the chief executive of Union Railway. In a process expected to last through the year, the rail company will then pre-qualify firms and invite them to submit formal tenders for roles including architectural and engineering design, construction and the supply of equipment such as track, rolling stock and signalling.
The project is expected to take up to eight years to complete and will transform the country's transport network, connecting industrial zones with export centres such as airports and sea ports, as well as offering passenger services, including some between Abu Dhabi and Dubai. The project is so large the UAE Central Bank recently said it should have a measurable, positive effect on the UAE economy.
The bidding will pit Asian, American and European firms against each other in a contest reminiscent of the UAE's $20.4bn contract for nuclear reactors, which was awarded in December. This year Industrial and Commercial Bank of China raised the stakes by promising project finance in a partnership with Chinese rail firms. China is also aggressively seeking work on US rail projects. Delegations from various countries have visited the UAE to promote themselves, including a group from the US that is in town this week.
That group will visit the Al Gharbia region, where the first 270km of track will be laid between Ruwais and Hapshan for the transport of granulated sulphur. Mr Bowker stressed that the bidding would be open and fair. "We will run a very disciplined, transparent and competitive process." firstname.lastname@example.org