By WAM www.emirates247.com
Etihad Rail, the developer and operator of the UAE’s national rail network, has made significant progress since its inception in 2009 and is set to complete the project as per schedule within next five years, according to a senior official.
“Stage two to link trains between Abu Dhabi and Dubai will be in place by 2017,” he said, adding that the 1,200 kilometre network is expected to be completed by 2018, when it will connect the rest of the network in the northern emirates.
“Our locomotives also arrived in April 2013, and we are on schedule for the first train to run from Habshan to Ruwais by the end of this year,” Shadi Malak, Executive Director of Commercial and Operations, Etihad Rail, said.
This is just the beginning of a long journey as the Etihad Rail has big plans to connect the emirate to a wider international network from the Middle East to Europe and Asia in the long run.
Initially, a three-stage $10 billion plan is under way that will lay down a 1,200km network to connect Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Dubai, Sharjah, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah and Khor Fakkan by the year 2018.
“Etihad Rail plans to operate some passenger trains between Abu Dhabi and Dubai once stage three is in place by 2018.
“We have considered the possibility of another separate connection between the two cities,” Malak was quoted by Wam as saying.
In terms of stage two, which will connect the railway to Mussafah, Khalifa and Jebel Ali ports and extend to the Saudi and Omani borders, he said the tendering progress is currently in process.
“We also have a rapidly expanding and diversifying customer base. To date, Etihad Rail has signed 15 Memorandums of Understandings (MoUs) with a number of customers throughout the Emirates in industries ranging from oil and gas and agriculture, to aggregates and waste, all of whom recognise rail as the preferred mode of transport for their goods.”
Malak said the UAE and Saudi Arabia have made ‘considerable progress’ in developing a rail network while other Gulf countries have also initiated work on mega-projects to link all their main ports and the Indian Ocean to transport goods to the rest of the world. More info