Members of the board of Etihad Rail- the developer and operator of the UAE\'s national railway network - conducted a site visit in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi to observe first-hand the latest progress and developments of the project. The board members first visited the sleeper factory in Mirfa, where they assessed its various facilities, production lines and depot. The group then moved on to survey the various features of the rolling stock, including the recently-arrived wagons, which will be used when trains run for the very first time in the Western region by year-end. The board members then witnessed the process by which the sleepers and tracks are laid on the ground, before their final stop at the trial sand mitigation site, which enables better understanding of windblown sand behaviour and its effect on the railway. The visit by the board members, led by Nasser Alsowaidi, Chairman of Etihad Rail, is part of the board\'s continued efforts to experience developments first-hand as well as to hear about recent achievements directly from the teams working on the ground, particularly with Stage One progressing on schedule for its inaugural journey in 2013. Commenting on the site visit, Alsowaidi said: \"We at Etihad Rail appreciate the unremitting support of our government for this project, which - once operational - will herald a new era of transport for the UAE. We look forward to the arrival of our locomotives this quarter and eagerly anticipate the first train running from Habshan to Ruwais by the end of this year.\" Etihad Rail\'s Chairman, Nasser Alsowaidi, was accompanied by Mattar Al Tayer, Vice Chairman of the Board; Dr. Nasser Saif Al-Mansoori, Etihad Rail CEO; and a number of board members including Abdallah Mohamed Al Zari, Dr. Abdullah Bill Haif Al Nuaimi, Mohamed Hareb Al Yousef, and Jamal Magid bin Thaniah. The board members were joined by members of Etihad Rail\'s senior management team, including Dr. Hazem Mobarek, Executive Director of Projects, and Shadi Malak, Executive Director of Commercial. Upon completion, the Etihad Rail network will extend approximately 1,200 km across the Emirates, catering to both freight and passengers. It will connect urban and remote communities, facilitate trade, open up communication channels and foster economic development. The network will also form a vital part of the GCC Railway Network - linking the UAE to Saudi Arabia via Ghweifat in the west and Oman via Al Ain in the east.