Etihad Rail, the master developer and operator of the UAE\'s national railway network, said yesterday it has selected Electro-Motive Diesel (EMD), one of the world\'s largest builders of diesel-electric locomotives, to design and manufacture seven heavy haul freight locomotives for delivery by 2012. Etihad Rail didn\'t say what the size of the deal with EMD was and spokespersons at Etihad Rail and EMD were unavailable for comment when contacted by Gulf News. Etihad Rail, however, said in a statement the locomotives contract was a \"momentous milestone\" for the Dh40 billion project. \"The locomotives contract award is perfectly timed to support Etihad Rail\'s inaugural service in the Abu Dhabi emirate\'s Western Region and reflects the requirement the UAE-wide project will have the first trains running on schedule in 2013.\" Article continues below \"Following a competitive tender process, Etihad Rail awarded the contract to the US-based company, a leader in the construction of diesel-electric locomotives for all commercial railroad applications including intercity passenger, commuter, freight, industrial, and mining. EMD will design, manufacture, deliver, test and commission locomotives for stage one of the Etihad Rail network, running from Shah to Ruwais.\" \"We are excited to be working with Electro-Motive Diesel as we are confident they will be able to provide stage one of our railway with locomotives designed and engineered to withstand the demanding climatic conditions of this region,\" said Etihad Rail\'s Chief Executive Officer Richard Bowker. \"With the expertise of EMD, our locomotives will incorporate the latest emissions compliance technology, enabling the Etihad Rail network to provide many environmental benefits in addition to the positive economic and social impact rail brings as a whole,\" he added. Etihad Rail will develop a 266km route in the Western Region that will carry trains transporting up to 22,000 tonnes of granulated sulphur daily from sources in Shah and Habshan for export abroad at the port of Ruwais. This route marks the first phase of the 1,200 kilometre mixed-traffic network that will span across the UAE. The Etihad Rail network will also link the UAE to Saudi Arabia via Ghweifat in the west and Oman via Al Ain in the east. Etihad Rail, formerly known as Union Railway, plans to complete the nationwide railway project by 2018. The project will be completed in three phases — phase one of the project incorporates the Shah-Habshan-Ruwais route — with the link between Habshan and Ruwais scheduled to be completed in the beginning of 2013 and that between Shah and Habshan by the end of 2014. Phase two of the project involves the construction of the remainder of the Abu Dhabi emirate network and a connection to Dubai — covering vital areas such as Musaffah and the Khalifa and Jebel Ali ports. The third and final phase entails the implementation of the rest of the network in Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain and Fujairah.