Etihad Rail has entered into an important phase by inaugurating a track-laying work at the Seih Shuaib site that is a strategic point to link Abu Dhabi and Dubai through a rail network.
Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s Court and Chairman of Etihad Rail, on Tuesday inaugurated the track-laying work for an important phase of the 1,200km project that will connect all the emirates through passengers and freight services in years to come.
Sheikh Theyab reviewed the progress during a 10-kilometre trip aboard an inspection and supervision train. The trip started from the operations centre at Seih Shuaib area and travelled in both directions towards Abu Dhabi and Dubai up to Al Maha Forest.
“This strategic project will provide a safe, reliable and integrated mode of transport in the UAE, and will constitute a key component of the UAE’s integrated, world-class transport system, placing it among the world’s leading countries for quality transport and infrastructure,” Sheikh Theyab iterated.
“It will also support the nation’s economic growth, connecting the UAE’s main ports with industrial, manufacturing and residential centres to positively impact the wellbeing of citizens and residents,” he added.
Preserving wildlife and natural habitats
Sheikh Theyab was also briefed on measures in place to cccc through the construction of bridges, canals and animal crossings.
The Etihad Rail chairman appreciated the UAE’s visionary leadership for its continuous and unlimited support to the project, which has already achieved a number of milestones including fast-tracking current construction work on Stage Two of the project. He also praised the efforts of all local and federal entities involved for their full support to this pivotal project, which is a key strategic pillar of the UAE’s development for the coming 50 years.
Project on track
Construction works on the national railway network are running according to the planned timetable, which reflects the project’s significance in providing national, modern and sustainable railways that consolidate the UAE’s position regionally and internationally.
Etihad Rail is one of the largest infrastructure projects in the UAE that will link the main centres of population and industry in the UAE and form a vital part of the planned railway network across the Gulf region.
Etihad Rail’s two tracks spanning 264km have been operational since 2016 transporting granulated sulphur from gasfields in Shah and Habshan to an export point in Ruwais. Two trains, each of them comprising of up to 110 wagons on one-way journey, have a capacity to transport up to 22,000 tonnes of Sulphur on daily basis.
In stage two of the project, more than 600k track will be laid down from Ghuweifat, on the border with Saudi Arabia, to Fujairah on the east coast.
Investment in infrastructure
Saad Maniar, senior partner at Crowe, said the UAE government's investment in infrastructure is commendable.
“The government’s investment play a multiplier role in the economic sense and contribute toward the overall growth including the sustainability agenda,” he said.
“Infrastructure development is a vital component in encouraging a country's economic growth. Not only does infrastructure in itself enhance the efficiency of production, transportation, and communication, but it also helps provide economic incentives to public and private sector participants,” Maniar told Khaleej Times on Tuesday.
Atik Munshi, managing partner at Enterprise House, said the Etihad Rail project is not just a large infrastructure project but it is also expected to overhaul the transport scene of UAE.
“Both passenger and goods transport will become more economic when long distances are considered. It will have a significant positive impact on the manufacturing sector as ease of movements of raw materials and finished goods can considerably increase the competitiveness of the country,” Munshi told Khaleej Times on Tuesday.
“It has to be appreciated that the authority is taking adequate measures to ensure that the ecology of the region is not negatively impacted due to the rail line. With the rail line in place UAE can attract large scale manufacturing entities where movement of heavy goods with economics of scale can be ensured,” he added.
Redefine logistics, transport
Bal Krishen, chairman and CEO, Century Financial, said the long-term plan is to be part of a wider railway network that would connect all six Gulf Cooperation Council countries, including Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar as well as the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
“The UAE is not a nation that shies away from a grand engineering project, if anything, it steams towards them with the thundering purpose of a one-track freight train. One of the most ambitious travel projects is the 1,200km long Etihad Rail network, the first national freight and passenger railway network connecting the seven emirates of the UAE right up to the very edge of Saudi Arabia,” Krishen told Khaleej Times on Tuesday.
He said this new rail network is expected to serve about 16 million passengers and 50 million tonnes of freight and is aimed to uplift the country’s rural population by creating jobs for skilled men and women in the surrounding communities, open up new trade corridors within the region and inching towards a world-class transportation system.
“This state-of-the-art network would redefine logistics and transport in the region, providing a modern, efficient, and sustainable network which will connect the seven emirates of the UAE to its neighboring GCC countries, acting as a catalyst for industrial expansion, economic growth and sustaining social development,” he said.
According to government officials, Etihad Rail is is working closely with the Federal Transport Authority and transport authorities to improve existing networks and develop passenger connections in coming years. They said upon completion of 1,200km project, the Etihad Rail network will help improve carbon emissions by replacing 5,600 on-road truck trips daily.
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