The United Arab Emirates' government has announced the launch of the UAE Railways Program, the largest integrated system for transporting goods and passengers across the country.
Etihad Rail will be expanded to include passenger train services and is expected to carry millions of passengers between the country’s major cities by 2030.
It will allow passengers to travel from Abu Dhabi to Dubai in 50 minutes, and from Abu Dhabi to Fujairah in 100 minutes.
The program, launched in the presence of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, is an integrated strategy for the railway sector in the UAE for the coming decades, state news agency WAM reported.
The program includes a national network of railway projects that link the emirates and the key cities of the country.
The first phase of the Etihad Rail has been fully operational since 2016, with opportunities to expand beyond the borders of the UAE.
The UAE Railways program falls under the ‘Projects of the 50’ which is a series of developmental and economic projects that aim to accelerate the UAE’s development, transform it into a comprehensive hub in all sectors and establish its status as an ideal destination for talents and investors.
The UAE Railways Program was launched during a special event celebrating the projects of the 50, held at Expo 2020 Dubai.
The event highlighted the objectives of the program and the phases of the Etihad Rail project, which connects Ghuwaifat on the border with Saudi Arabia to the port of Fujairah on the Eastern Coast.
Sheikh Mohammed said: “The Etihad Rail is the largest project to consolidate the strength of the union for the next fifty years. It will connect 11 key cities and regions across the UAE.”
“The UAE’s infrastructure is among the best in the world, and the Etihad Rail will further enhance UAE excellence in the logistical field. The project comes in line with the environmental policy of the UAE and it will reduce carbon emissions by 70-80 percent,”.
Sheikh Mohamed added: “The National Railways Program reflects the true meaning of integration into our national economic system, as we see the largest partnership between government entities at the federal and local levels. It comes to support a national vision to connect the country’s key centers of industry and production, open new trade routes and facilitate population movement, creating the most developed work and life environment in the region.”
Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s Court, and Chairman of Etihad Rail, said that the UAE Railways Program is a key milestone in the road transport sector
Shadi Malak, Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Rail, said that the UAE Railways Program would provide more than 9,000 jobs by 2030.
The investments of the UAE Railway Program amount to about $13.6 billion, 70 percent of which targets the local market.
The program contributes to reducing 70-80 percent of carbon emissions over the next 50 years, a move that supports the UAE’s efforts to preserve the environment and achieve its goal of carbon neutrality.
The UAE Railway Program includes three key projects; the first project is the Freight Rail, which includes the Etihad Rail freight services.
The second project is the Rail Passenger Services that aim to connect 11 cities with the UAE from Al Sila to Fujairah.
By 2030, the number of passengers is expected to reach more than 36.5 million annually.
The third project is the Integrated Transportation Service, where an innovation center will be established to ensure the integration of the smart transportation solutions. A network of light rail will be connected to the Rail Passenger System to facilitate transportation inside UAE cities.
Additionally, smart applications and solutions will also be developed to allow planning and booking trips, integrating logistics operations, port and customs services, and providing integrated logistics solutions.
The first stage (the commercial activity) of Etihad Rail commenced in January 2016. Etihad Rail has transported more than 30 million tons of granulated sulfur (the equivalent of around 2.8 million truck trips).
Stage two construction phase was launched in 2018, where 70 percent of it was achieved in less than 24 months despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Etihad Rail has continued to forge ahead and complete the project according to its clearly defined goals and comprehensive work plan.
To date, 180 entities have been cooperating and more than 40 thousand official papers have been issued. 27 thousand people are working in more than 3,000 constructions sites across the country achieving 76 million working hours.
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