Three major transportation projects — over land and across the sea — are expected to materialise soon to make international travel easier and relatively cheaper for UAE residents and neighbouring countries.
We look at these three undertakings:
Train to India
At the recent G20 summit in Delhi, it was reported that a new corridor for Middle East and South Asia will not only include ports but a railway system as well that would transport not only goods by passengers as well.
Ausaf Sayeed from India Foreign Ministry said the corridor “would include trains to India and not just links by port” in a multinational rail and ports deal that includes the US, Saudi Arabia, India, European Union and the UAE. He added the new corridor “will include ports, railways, better roads and also power, gas grids and optical fiber network.”
If the plans pushes through, reports said the arrangement would involve ship transit between India and Saudi Arabia, then trains through Saudi Arabia and the UAE, then anoter ship transit to Turkey and onward to Europe.
The 2,117km GCC Railway that will connect key cities in each of the six GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) member state is on track. All feasibility and traffic studies have been completed and the regional rollout will materialise soon, officials said during rail exhibition and conference in Abu Dhabi middle of this year.
Speaking to Khaleej Times back in May, Nasser AlQahtani, GCC Railway Authority expert, said the GCC Railway Authority – that was created by the Supreme Council of the GCC to oversee and manage the implementation of region’s railway network – is actively supporting all member states for the regional railway project.
The GCC Railway project is given a boost by both the UAE and Saudi Arabia that are front runners in the project.
The UAE’s 900km national network has long been completed and Etihad Rail's commercial freight services have been fully operational since February; while Saudi Arabia’s 200-km Ras Al Khair-Damman route passing through Jubail has been completed.
Meanwhile, Oman Rail and Etihad Rail established a joint venture to build and operate a railway network linking Sohar Port to the UAE National Rail Network. Phase 1 of Qatar Rail’s infrastructure design and implementation of documents have been completed and Doha Metro has been operational since May 2019.
King Fahad Causeway Authority is working on the transitional phase off the parallel bridge project that will link Bahrain to the GCC railways network; and the design consultancy contract for Kuwait’s 111km railway track has been released.
UAE-India travel by ship
In this day and age of travelling by plane or train, there is still an alternative and cost-effective mode of travel by sea.
A couple of weeks ago, Khaleej Times reported that a passenger ship service between the UAE and the southern Indian state of Kerala could be a reality soon. Indian expats are sure to benefit from this cheaper mode of travel as tickets are likely to cost starting from Dh442 one way.
Voyage would be roughly three days, according to YA Rahim, president of the Indian Association Sharjah, who told Khaleej Times that the idea is to get the service up and running before school break in December this year.
“We want to make sure that Indian expats in the UAE can travel to their hometown without paying exorbitant airline charges,” he underscored.
The prospect for the project is bright. “All we need now is the approval from the Central government... I don’t see why there should be any objection to the project. If we get the approval, we can get the service trial run started by November,” Rahim continued.
The project is being spearheaded by Sharjah Indian Association, in partnership with Ananthapuri Shipping and Logistics Private Limited, and supported by the government of Kerala and the Non-Resident Keralites Affairs (NORKA)- a department of the Kerala government to address the issues of non-resident Keralites.
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