The Etihad Rail Project will contribute AED 186 billion ($50.6 billion) to the UAE economy and transform the country’s connectivity, according to a recent report.

Over the next 40 years, the project is expected to generate AED 84 billion from transport cost savings, AED 21 billion from tourism and AED 23 billion from wider economic benefits, according to an article by Investment Monitor sponsored by the Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO).

Air travel growth by 2028 may be 10 percent lower than previously thought, the article said, following COVID-19 impacts, with transport shifting towards rail from air following lockdowns and international travel restrictions.

“After months of grounded planes, airlines are facing a long road to recovery, while high-speed rail is set to grow faster than any other travel segment in the coming years,” it said.

The report, to mark the launch of the Abu Dhabi Prospectus by ADIO, said the development of the tourism industry is one of the project’s principal objectives and that domestic and international tourists will be able to take advantage of the link between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, as well as northern emirates and the east coast.

In particular, Al Ain and Al Dhafra regions in Abu Dhabi are expected to reap the rewards of better connectivity, the report said.

The report said rail is one of the most energy-efficient modes of transport for both freight and passengers, with the potential to save 5 million tons of CO2 globally over 10 years if people used it instead of flying or driving.  

International Energy Agency (IEA) executive director Dr Fatih Birol said: “The rail sector can provide substantial benefits for the energy sector as well as for the environment. By diversifying energy sources and providing more efficient mobility, rail can lower transport energy use and reduce carbon dioxide and local pollutant emissions”.

(Writing by Imogen Lillywhite; editing by Seban Scaria)

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