The UAE Government has announced the launch of the UAE Railways Program, the largest integrated system for transporting goods and passengers across the country, worth AED50 billion ($13.61 billion).
The programme constitutes an integrated strategy for the railway sector in the UAE for the coming decades, as it includes a national network of railway projects that link the emirates and the key cities of the country.
It was launched in the presence of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, and HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.
Stage One 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 Dubai 2020. The event highlighted the objectives of the programme and the stages of the "Etihad Rail" project, which connects Ghuwaifat on the border with Saudi Arabia to the port of Fujairah on the Eastern Coast.
HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum 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."
He added: "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%.”
HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan said: "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 the UAE Railways Program is a key milestone in the road transport sector and a true reflection to ‘The Principles of the 50’.
Sheikh Theyab added that the UAE Railways Program extends an opportunity to qualify and train Emirati talents and enable them to lead this vital sector in the future.
Qualifying and training national cadres
Shadi Malak, Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Rail, said the Etihad Rail is operated by Emirati talents who possess an exceptional experience they gain during Phase one and two, pointing out that the UAE Railways Program provides more than 9000 jobs by 2030.
Malak added that the Rail Passenger Services will enhance the transportation system across the UAE allowing passengers to travel from Abu Dhabi to Dubai in 50 minutes, and from Abu Dhabi to Fujairah in 100 minutes.
Eng Kholoud Al Mazrouei, Deputy Project Manager of Etihad Rail, said Etihad Rail supports the public transport system in the UAE, pointing out that the key milestones are achieved during the Stage One including the transportation 30 thousand tonnes instead of transporting 5 thousand tonnes of granulated Sulphur through trucks, which have contributed to the UAE being the world's leading exporter of sulphur, and eliminating 2.5 million truck trips, which translates into increasing the level of road safety, reducing maintenance costs and reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
Three strategic projects
The UAE Railway Program aims to develop a sustainable road transport system that supports economic development efforts in all sectors, including the environment, industry and tourism. The program also aims to connect the emirates of the UAE and provide a reliable transportation system.
The investments of the UAE Railway Program amount to AED50 billion, 70% of which targets the local market. The programme contributes to providing more than 9,000 jobs in the railway sector and supporting sectors by 2030.
The programme contributes to reducing 70-80% of carbon emissions, 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. At a speed of 200 km/h the service will connect 11 cities within the UAE, where passengers can travel from Abu Dhabi to Dubai in 50 minutes, and from Abu Dhabi to Fujairah in 100 minutes. 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 centre 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 UAE Railway Program creates enormous economic opportunities amounting to AED200 billion; the estimated benefits of reducing carbon emissions amount to AED21 billion, road maintenance AED8 billion, in addition to achieving tourism benefits estimated at AED23 billion during the next 50 years, meanwhile the public benefits on the UAE economy will reach AED23 billion.
Etihad Rail launched operations of Stage One in 2016. Etihad Rail commenced construction of Stage Two in early 2020, achieving in less than 24 months 70% of this stage, 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.
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