August 8 - Etihad Rail, the master developer and operator of the UAE's national railway network, and Emirates Steel, the largest integrated steel manufacturer in the UAE, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to use rail as the primary method fo

The agreement is made at a time when the construction of the rail network is about to commence; this will represent a key step towards easing the transportation issues associated with the major flows of Emirates Steel's products and raw materials. For Emirates Steel, the partnership will help the company meet the distribution needs of the growing demand for quality steel products from the region's fast-developing economies.

The MoU was signed by Richard Bowker CBE, CEO of Etihad Rail, and Saeed Ghumran Al Romaithi, acting CEO at Emirates Steel.

Expressing his delight to partner with Etihad Rail at this early stage in its development, Al Romaithi said: "We are one of the heaviest users of road haulage in the Emirates. Therefore, real environmental benefits will be realised by taking trucks off the road, easing road congestion and enhancing road safety."

Commenting on the new collaboration, Bowker said: "Both Etihad Rail and Emirates Steel are playing an important role in the overall development of the UAE as well as in driving the country's economic growth. We are honoured to provide Emirates Steel with a more effective transport solution and look forward to working with them to further our goal of fostering economic development in the region."

Etihad Rail executive director - commercial Shadi Malak also added: "Our network will provide Emirates Steel with a modern, safe and sophisticated means of transport that is also environmentally sound and sustainable. Etihad Rail will enable an efficient, reliable, and feasible means to transfer incoming raw materials to the factory and their finished goods for export. The new agreement is truly a result of our joint efforts over the past year to implement the best operational solutions and processes, specifically designed to meet the needs of our new partner."

Construction on Phase One of the project - a 266 km route that will link three cities in the Emirate's Western Region - is expected to begin this summer, and is scheduled to be commercially operational in 2013.

When complete, the AED40 billion Etihad Rail network will span 1,200 km across the Emirates and will also form a vital part of the greater GCC network.