His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and the Ruler of Dubai, officially launched the national railway network at a ceremony held on Thursday. In its current phase of the mega railway project headed by Etihad Rail, will operate across the country connecting four ports and several logistics hubs across the UAE.
In a tweet from his official account, the UAE Vice President said, “Today the UAE has successfully launched the national railway network. The network will connect 4 major ports across the country and seven logistics areas, and will be capable of transporting goods weighing 60 million tonnes every year.” He also mentioned that the train network will enhance the UAE’s economy and is capable of having an economic impact worth AED200 billion by the year 2050.
UAE’s National Railway Network will Eventually Connect All Seven Emirates and Other Key Hubs
The launch event of the freight network of the national railway network took place in the Al Fayah region in Abu Dhabi, which is the main control and maintenance center of the network operations.
Adding to his words about the launch, Sheikh Mohammed also said “We are really proud of our sons and daughters who worked really hard over the recent years to build such as ambitious and strategic project which will definitely propel the economy of the United Arab Emirates to newer heights.”
He also stated that “connecting all the emirates within the United Arab Emirates with the help of the national railway network will definitely strengthen the competitiveness and capabilities of the country and also consolidates our commitment to unity.”
Photographs from the event show HH Sheikh Mohammed, HH Sheikh Hamdan, other sheiks, and several leaders onboard the Etihad rail passenger train and observing the experience.
Developed and operated by Etihad Rail, the project took cooperation between 180 federal and local authorities across the country, 11 contractors, 28,000 specialists, and 25 consultants, who altogether worked for 133 million working hours to get this phase completed.
The freight network has 38 locomotives and over 1,000 wagons in its fleet and is capable of transporting any type of good across the country. Each locomotive has a power output of 4,500 horsepower, which equals about 3,400 kilowatts, thus making it among the most powerful train engine used for freight operations in the Middle East.
To ensure the smooth functioning of the railway network, there are over 1,000 documents that have been created, which include handbooks, policies, instructions, guidelines, operational procedures, etc.
Speaking at the launch event, Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Abu Dhabi Executive Council member and the Chairman of Etihad Rail, said “The talented workforce of Emiratis, along with the support of the leadership of the United Arab Emirates, have become successful in turning the dream of the country’s founding fathers into a reality.”
He further added, “Thanks to them all, we won the bet and succeeded to launch a railway network within the UAE that meets all the internationally recommended specifications and extends a distance of about 900 kilometers across the UAE. We today announce the inauguration of the operation of freight trains throughout the country with a fleet size of 38 locomotives and over 1,000 wagons that can carry all types of goods.”
Th Etihad Rail project, of which the currently launched freight operations are a part, is an ambitious project which is also the largest of its kind in the region that will link all the seven emirates of the country with stops at key destinations and will function as an efficient connectivity link increasing the effectiveness of the country’s trade, manufacturing, and logistics operations.
Also, once the passenger trains start operations, it will also provide people living across the UAE to have better, faster, and more efficient access to the rest of the country.
The location of the first passenger train station was announced back in June 2022, which will be located in the emirate of Fujairah and once completed will connect with all 11 other regions across the country.
Once the full passenger network is up and running, it will be possible to travel from Abu Dhabi to Dubai in just 50 minutes, and the travel time from Abu Dhabi to Fujairah will reduce to just 100 minutes.
The UAE also has plans to extend its railway network to neighboring nations. As a first step, a deal was signed between the United Arab Emirates and Oman back in September 2022. The deal, worth $3 billion, will see the establishment of a new company called the “Oman-Etihad Rail Company”, on which both countries will have equal ownership.
The company will be responsible to design, develop, and operate a railway network that will link the Sohar Port in Oman with the national railway network in the United Arab Emirates.