Look: UAE rail network now complete, cargo train operations launched

One of the largest infrastructure projects in the region, the main line of the railway extends from Ghuweifat on the border of Saudi Arabia to Fujairah


Sahim Salim

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Photo: Supplied
Photo: Supplied

Published: Thu 23 Feb 2023, 10:14 PM

Last updated: Thu 23 Feb 2023, 11:32 PM

The UAE has announced the launch of its national railway network. The 900km pan-UAE network has been completed according to the approved schedule and budget, with cargo train operations launched across the Emirates.

The freight trains are powered by a fleet of 38 locomotives and more than 1,000 wagons capable of transporting all types of goods.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, witnessed the inauguration of the network at the main centre for control and maintenance in Al Fayah, Abu Dhabi.

Taking to Twitter, he posted a series of photos, one of which showed him inside a train along with other Sheikhs and leaders.

One of the largest infrastructure projects in the region, the main line of the UAE National Railway Network extends from Ghuweifat on the border of Saudi Arabia to Fujairah. It passes through several geographical terrains, with its engineering plan including the construction of 593 bridges and crossings, and nine tunnels with a length of 6.5km. It took 120-million cubic metres of excavation work to complete.

Sheikh Mohammed said: "It connects four major ports in the country and seven logistical areas, and can transport 60 million tonnes of goods annually.”

The network will contribute to supporting the national economy with an estimated value of Dh200 billion. It will help save Dh8 billion in road maintenance costs. The network’s tourism benefits are estimated at Dh23 billion.

"It was accomplished with the cooperation of 180 federal and local authorities who worked 133 million working hours,” Sheikh Mohammed added.

Etihad Rail is the developer and operator of the UAE National Railway Network. According to its website, stage one of the network has been fully operational since January 2016, transporting up to 22,000 tonnes of granulated sulphur each day from Habshan and Shah to Ruwais on behalf of Adnoc. Stage two began in 2020.

Realising a dream

Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and Chairman of Etihad Rail, highlighted how Emirati talents “turned the dream of our founding fathers into reality”.

“Thanks to them, we won the bet, and succeeded in launching a railway network with international specifications that extends to about 900km across the Emirates.”

The network contributes to supporting companies' businesses and enhancing investment opportunities.

The project has contributed to supporting the local industry by assigning 215 companies and local entities. Additionally, 70 per cent of the building materials used in the project are produced locally.

The project will reduce carbon emissions in the road transport sector by 21 per cent, and road transportation emissions per capita by 40 per cent by 2050.

This national project contributed to supporting the Emiratisation agenda. Emiratis are taking over a number of technical positions at Etihad Rail, including the roles of train captain, controller and inspector, among others.

Eleven contractors, 25 consultants, and 28,000 specialists worked on the project. It secured 40,000 approvals from 180 government agencies. More than 1,000 operational documents have been produced, including instructions, handbooks, guidelines, policies, operating procedures and agreements, among others.


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