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Etihad Rail to see first freight shipments by year end

Etihad Rail has secured a key line of funding for the first link in the UAE?s US$10.89bn national railway network, with first freight shipments set to start later this year

The company, established in 2009 to develop the UAE?s freight and passenger railway networks, said it had secured a five-year loan worth US$1.28bn for the first stage of its railway project.

The first stage of the railway line would run between Shah and Habshan to Ruwais, easing transport of the UAE?s onshore oil and gas resources to ports on the Gulf coast. The rail line has been designed to eventually connect Abu Dhabi to Dubai and to destinations across the wider GCC.

Nasser Saif Al Mansoori, chief executive of Etihad Rail, said, "The project is gaining momentum and should be ready to start shipping goods by December.

?Etihad Rail is on schedule to see the first train run from Habshan to Ruwais by the end of this year,? he added.

Stage one of the Etihad Rail would comprise of 264km of track that is expected to transport shipments of granulated sulphur for Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) for export at the port of Ruwais.

The loan funding was provided by National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD), Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank and HSBC Middle East.

NBAD said it viewed the rail project as a solid contribution towards economic progress and diversification in the UAE, and across the GCC, as well as adding social and environmental benefits.

The Etihad Rail project would eventually span 1.2mn km and would require the construction of customised freight cars able to function in desert climates.

The railway link would stretch to Khalifa Port and Jebel Ali to transport container freight arriving in the UAE, while also ferrying construction materials across the UAE.