Etihad Rail trains zip across the desert in new milestone

The latest phase extends 139 kilometres and is connected through Al Ghuwaifat on the border of Saudi Arabia

The UAE national railway network project, Etihad Rail, marked a key milestone with the completion of work on Package A of Stage Two.

The latest phase extends 139 kilometres and is connected through Al Ghuwaifat on the border of Saudi Arabia.

“This significant step brings the company closer to completing the 1,200-kilometre rail project, initially estimated to cost Dh40 billion, on schedule,” the company said.

The rail project, which has been designed to connect the hubs of trade and industry in the UAE, will form a vital part of the GCC railway network, connecting the seven emirates to the five neighbouring Gulf nations.

Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s Court and Chairman of Etihad Rail, and the company’s Board of Directors held a virtual meeting to review the progress of the construction works.

Sheikh Theyab praised the Etihad Rail team for their achievement, in spite of the challenges they faced due the coronavirus pandemic.

The rail project, launched in 2009, had its stage one operational in 2016. Each day, two trains capable of transporting up to 22,000 tonnes of sulphur, run across the country. Each can haul up to 110 wagons on any one journey.

Since 2016, two tracks – spanning 264 kilometres – have been in operation transporting granulated sulphur from gas fields in Shah and Habshan to an export point in Ruwais.

In stage two of the project, more than 600 kilometres of the additional track will be laid down from Ghuweifat, on the border with Saudi Arabia, to Fujairah on the east coast.

Sheikh Theyab said Etihad Rail would continue its efforts to realise the leadership’s vision of developing the strategic project, which is one of the largest infrastructure projects in the UAE.

“Etihad Rail will connect vital areas in the seven Emirates via a track extending over 1,200km to enhance the UAE’s social and economic development, as well as its global positioning in line with the UAE Centennial 2071,” he said.

This year, Etihad Rail succeeded in reserving 40 per cent of the network’s annual transport capacity, which by the completion of Stage Two will amount to 60 million tonnes of goods per year. This was achieved through the commercial agreements Etihad Rail has signed including those with Stevin Rock, one of the biggest quarrying companies in the world, Western Bainoona Group, and Al Ghurair Iron & Steel (AGIS).

“The company will continue to establish further commercial partnerships and strategic agreements so that various companies benefit from the unparalleled services, economic and logistical advantages of the UAE National Railway Network,” the company said in a statement.

The rail network stretches westwards to the borders of Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The western section links Saudi Arabia via Ghweifat and the eastern section links Oman via Al Ain.

The line runs across the Emirates connecting Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Dubai. It then extends to the northern emirates and Fujairah.

Stage Two extends from the Saudi Arabia border at Ghuweifat and connect Emirates through Abu Dhabi, Khalifa Port, Kizad, Dubai, Ras Al Khaimah, Jebel Ali Port, Sharjah and Fujairah on the east coast of UAE.

— issacjohn@khaleejtimes.com

author

Issac John

Editorial Director of Khaleej Times, is a well-connected Indian journalist and an economic and financial commentator. He has been in the UAE’s mainstream journalism for 35 years, including 23 years with Khaleej Times. A post-graduate in English and graduate in economics, he has won over two dozen awards. Acclaimed for his authentic and insightful analysis of global and regional businesses and economic trends, he is respected for his astute understanding of the local business scene.

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