Transportation projects in the UAE consistently stay ahead of the curve when adopting the most delinquent technology and strategies. Looking at the exciting list of upcoming transport projects, it is certain that things are completing rapidly. Different procedures and plans have been laid out to ensure quick progress, and it won’t be long before the local transportation network in the UAE is one of the most advanced in the world. The construction of Etihad Rail, a national railway network that will help the ever-expanding industries in the country, signaled the beginning of a giant railway project throughout the region.
Now, with the main amount of the infrastructure approaching completion, it’s the perfect time to look at everything about Etihad Rail so far.
Phase 1 of The Etihad Rail Project:
The Etihad Rail project was established in 2009. The first phase was completed in 2016 as two trains started operating across the country. Each train can carry 22,000 tons of sulfur and 110 wagons on a single journey.
So far, 30 million tones of granulated sulfur have been transported with zero injuries without a single lost-time incident, which is equivalent to 1.8 million truck trips. Interestingly, a single train journey means taking over 300 trucks off the road resulting in a reduction of up to 80% carbon dioxide. The two tracks, both spanning 264 km, transport granulated sulfur from gas fields in Shah and Habshan to the export point in Ruwais.
Phase 2 of The Etihad Rail Project:
Upon completion, the Etihad Rail network will be critical for travel and business in the region. The plan is to connect all the seven emirates to the neighboring five GCC countries. Phase 2 of Etihad Rail will involve finalizing an additional track of 605 km from Ghuwaifat, near the Saudi Arabia border, to Fujairah.
The UAE will import another 38 locomotives for stage two of the Etihad Railway project. These machines are designed to pull a 100-wagon train, effectively replacing as many as 5,600 trucks each day.
The Etihad Rail network to connect the country will involve the capital Abu Dhabi, KIZAD, Port Khalifa, Port Jebel Ali, Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah, Dubai, and Fujairah on the East Coast. This extension will link the existing line at Ruwais, effectively uniting the trading centers as well as the major industrial ports within the UAE.
Different wagons will be used for transporting goods depending on the type of materials. These include temperature-controlled carriages, rail gondolas, low side walls for bulk material, flatbed wagons and intermodal steel containers.
How Long is the Etihad Rail?
Etihad Rail will cover 1,200 km. Tracks will connect to the border of Saudi Arabia to the south and touch Oman to the east. The project’s distribution centers and storehouses will be connected to major transport hubs and storage facilities across the country. The Etihad rail map posted above outlines the whole project.
Can Goods and Materials Be Transported Via the Trains?
From food items to raw material for construction, Etihad Rail can transport it all. The plan includes transporting beverages, perishable food, sugar, polymers, metal, shipping containers, waste, hay, ceramics and more.
Will the Etihad Rail Carry Normal Passengers?
Yes, passenger transport is part of the plan. So, when the time comes, you’ll be able to travel from emirate to emirate by rail.
What Awaits Passengers Once They Step Inside the Carriages?
The passenger trains will travel at speeds up to 200kph and can carry about 400 people, linking 11 cities and areas across the UAE from Al Sila in the west to Fujairah in the north. Carriages will be equipped with Wi-Fi, entertainment systems, charging points and various food and beverages options and cater to all people in the UAE from families to workers to tourists. Customers can expect travel time of 50 minutes between Abu Dhabi and Dubai and about 100 minutes from Abu Dhabi to Fujairah cutting commutes significantly. Passengers can read a book, finish work, be with family and enjoy the time until you get to your destination without being bothered by traffic.
What Will Be the Impact on the Job Market of this Project?
Etihad Rail provided an opportunity for Emirati students to specialize in railway education. The first class of such students graduated with diplomas in 2020. It was a proud moment for the country when Maithaa Al Remeithi became the first female Emirati train controller. To keep this massive project running, a skilled and dedicated workforce will be needed, creating job opportunities. As mentioned, the process of developing a workforce has already commenced.
How Will Etihad Rail Help Business Operating in the UAE?
Upon completion of Phase 2, the Etihad Rail network will make a huge difference for businesses. It would help reduce the country’s carbon footprint and potentially save costs. Indeed, this will transform the logistics industry. Connecting different socio-economics zones will be helpful for businesses trying to expand in other emirates and the neighboring GCC countries. In the long run, this project will enhance the UAE’s positioning in the global market and make it even more attractive for foreign investors.
Environment Protection & Other Considerations:
10 road underpasses, two underbridges and 20 overbridges were constructed during phase 1. Moreover, 18 small underpasses were built for future use to avoid disrupting the flow of traffic.
The UAE has the most prominent animal attractions. Therefore, the infrastructure was developed to ensure animal habitats are not impacted in any way. As many as 78 reptiles, 10 camels and 22 gazelle underpasses were constructed to monitor the wildlife and protect their habitats closely. Breeding sites, especially for endangered species, have been avoided during the project development. Similarly, all vegetation that had to be removed was replanted carefully at a suitable site.
Another key consideration was noise control. There are zero road intersections, so train horns will be only used in emergencies. The tracks that have been used don’t have joints and the ballasts used also absorb noise and energy.
Once fully operational, the Etihad Rail network is estimated to replace 5,600 trucks per day. Traffic on road networks will lessen; hence traveling across emirates will become faster.
An environmental study conducted before the project launch assessed and predicted its impact. The Etihad Rail project can help reduce pollution as trains emit up to 80% less carbon dioxide than trucks carrying the same load. Overall, the Etihad Railway network can help reduce greenhouse gasses by an estimated 2.2 million metric tons per year. It is the same as taking 375,000 vehicles off the road.
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