Union Railway, which plans to begin construction on the United Arab Emirates’ rail network in mid-2011, said it has issued tenders for rolling stock for the Western region railway.

The firm plans to complete an $11 billion, 1,500 km railway project across the UAE by 2017 that will also connect the UAE to Saudi Arabia and Oman.

Union Railway did not give the value of the rolling stock tender. Earlier this month, it also issued a tender for civil and track works on the same segment of railway.

The rail operator’s first project will carry granulated sulphur from Habshan to Ruwais for export from state-run Abu Dhabi National Oil Company’s (ADNOC) Shah gas field in 2013.

Construction of the national rail network project is slated to begin in the middle of this year after the contracts are awarded, Union Railway said.

Gulf Arab states are spending more than $100 billion on rail projects across the region as they tackle poor public transports networks and growing populations.

The six oil and gas producers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) seek to create a similar model to Europe’s high-speed rail system, with plans to extend the estimated 1,940 kilometre network to Yemen in the south of the Arabian peninsula and connect the entire Gulf network by 2017. (Reuters)