Etihad Rail – the developer and operator of the UAE’s national railway network – announced that it has secured financing of $1.28 billion (Dh4.7 billion) for Stage One of its railway project, which comprises the route from Shah and Habshan to Ruwais.
The chief executive of Etihad Rail confirmed in a media statement this morning that the locomotives for the first train are scheduled to arrive within the first quarter of 2013, and that Etihad Rail is on track to operating its first train this year itself.
“With the recent arrival of our wagons, the considerable headway being made in construction on Stage One, and as we look forward to the arrival of our locomotives later this quarter, Etihad Rail is on schedule to seeing the first train run from Habshan to Ruwais by the end of this year,” Dr. Nasser Saif Al Mansoori, CEO of Etihad Rail, said.
Etihad Rail will ultimately link the UAE’s seven emirates to other GCC countries. Upon completion, the UAE’s national railway network will span approximately 1,200km across the Emirates, boosting economic growth by connecting key centers of industry and population, and sustaining trade and social development. The Etihad Rail network will also form a vital part of the GCC railway network.
Commenting on the completion of financing for the first stage of the project, Nasser Alsowaidi, Chairman of Etihad Rail, said: “The securing of this loan not only represents the beginning of a new era for the UAE in trade and travel through a transportation network that will connect all seven emirates with our GCC partners, but also reflects the international financial community’s confidence in Etihad Rail and the significant potential of the UAE’s national railway.”
“This loan is yet another indicator of the significant progress being made at Etihad Rail,” added Al Mansoori.
The five-year loan will be financed on a club deal basis by National Bank of Abu Dhabi, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank and HSBC Bank Middle East, with NBAD acting as both the facility and security agent of the loan.
Initial financing plans for the first stage of the project were originally approved by the UAE’s Federal Cabinet in early 2012, and similarly authorized by the Abu Dhabi Executive Council.
“We look forward to working with our banking partners as we develop this landmark project for the UAE, and appreciate the efforts of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company and the substantial role the company played in helping to secure this loan,” the CEO added.
Stage One of the Etihad Rail network will extend 264 km from Shah and Habshan to Ruwais, facilitating a modern, safe, efficient and environmentally friendly means to transport ADNOC’s shipments of granulated sulphur for export at the port of Ruwais.
Etihad Rail received its first shipment of wagons for Stage One in December last year, and will receive its first shipment of locomotives this quarter, while construction works on the route are well underway.