It’s all right on track…

We’ve put together a consolidatory dispatch from the front line of the passenger train that will link 11 cities across the seven emirates of the UAE.

It’s a part of a massive Dhs50 billion project with future ambitions that extend beyond our borders and into the rest of the GCC. Sandpiercer, here we come…

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Here’s the latest news on Etihad Rail

November 22: Record-breaking bridges

The image below shows the near completion of two incredible feats of engineering in Fujairah, and that’s before the train is even running on this section. First, there’s the tunnel through the dramatic, jagged Hajar mountainscape, carved directly out of the stone — and then there’s the Al Bithnah Bridge, 600m long and now officially the highest railway bridge in the UAE.

October 18: Look who’s made it onto TikTok

@etihadrail ‎نحن الآن على “تيك توك”! تابعونا لمعرفة كل جديد عن شبكة السكك الحديدية الوطنية الإماراتية ‎# الاتحاد_ للقطارات #القطار #السكة_الحديدية #أبوظبي #دبي #السكة_الحديد ♬ original sound – Etihad Rail

October 12: Hello Sharjah, hello Ras Al Khaimah

Two more emirates are now on board the Etihad Rail bandwagon with the connection of both Sharjah and Rak to the track network.

October 7: Hello Abu Dhabi

The UAE Rail project has hit another major milestone with the inaugural voyage of a train traveling from the ‘way out west’ Mirfa Depot to the very gates of Abu Dhabi city — the ICAD freight terminal, in Mussafah… Next stop, Dubai.

September 30: Man, Oman

The end of September delivered a pretty sizable carriage of news onto the UAE Rail media platforms — and it is beyond doubt that the most exciting part of that download, was the revelation that an inter-GCC link-up was now a reality, with a line connecting Oman with the UAE via rail.

Details so far are scant, but we do know the 303km stretch of track will enable travel times of 100 minutes for the journey between Sohar to Abu Dhabi and just 47 minutes for a Sohar to Al Ain expedition.

The collaborative efforts will be overseen by a newly formed, jointly owned company Oman-Etihad Rail Company — which will have an investment budget of USD3 billion to get both freight and passenger services on the right track.

August 26, 2022: The little engines that could

Turns out ‘doing the locomotion’ isn’t the sole preserve of diminutive antipodean pop stars, nope — the freight-pulling Locomotives of the UAE rail project are a key part of the industrial element of the network, and in keeping with the UAE’s drive for innovation and staying at the forefront of the technological curve, these aren’t your ordinary tank engines.

Cho0-choo-choosing the right locomotives to get the challenging job done in what, let’s be clear here — are extreme weather and geographical conditions, is extremely important. There’s the intense heat and dryness of the desert, the humidity of the coastal regions and wind that’s capable of kicking up a cinematic quantity of dust. And these bespoke muscle monsters which arrived through Al Mussafah Port this week are absolutely top of the, ahem, line. They have also been constructed to be environmentally friendly, durable, powerful and *blushing* well they’re beautiful aren’t they? No? We know Francis Bourgeois would be on board.

There’s currently 45 of these heavy lifting locomotives, each capable of shifting 1,000 wagons— transporting 60 million tonnes of cargo. The EMD locomotives were built in the USA whilst the multi-functional wagons manufactured in China.

The 200kph passenger train component is being handled by the Spanish company, CAF as part of a 1.2 billion deal to construct and maintain the fleet.

August 5, 2022: Snapped! A stunning aerial view of the rail through the Hajar mountains

Etihad Rail Mountains Hajjar

As work speeds along, Etihad Rail shared an aerial snap of the tracks cutting through the scene and iconic Hajar mountains. According to Etihad Rail, the National Railway network extends for 145kms and connects the borders of Sharjah, going through Fujairah all the way to Ras Al Khaimah.

June 23, 2022: It’s going to cut commute times by up to 40 per cent

A bold claim, but that’s the beauty of rail travel — no traffic lights, no tram intersections, nobody putting on their hazard lights whilst they reverse up a slip road. And then there’s the speed, the spec sheet that comes with this passenger train is quoting speeds of up to 200kph, with passenger capacities of around 400 users.

June 22, 2022: Construction has begun on a bridge over the Sheikh Zayed Road

Earlier this week we received news that construction was well underway on the Sheikh Zayed Road (E11).

November 15, 2021: Construction on the 1,200km network is nearly 70 per cent complete

 

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When What’s On spoke to Ahmed Al Musawa, Executive Director of Passenger Services Sector at Etihad Rail pertaining to travel time between the emirates, here’s what he said

Ahmed Al Musawa: Train passenger services will enable users to plan their journeys between the emirates and cities more efficiently, significantly decreasing the travel time:

  • Traveling from Abu Dhabi to Dubai will take up to 50 minutes
  • Traveling from Abu Dhabi to Fujairah will take 100 minutes
  • Traveling from Dubai to Fujairah will take 50 minutes.
  • Traveling from Abu Dhabi To Ruwais will take 70 minutes

So, which stops/communities the railway will serve?

AAM: The network will extend from Al Sila to Fujairah, Serving 11 cities, towns and communities around the network, including: Ruwais, Al Mirfa, Fujairah, Sharjah, Al Dhaid, Abu Dhabi.

Do we know which station will be completed first?

Well, according to updates, the first completed station will be in Fujairah. Following a site inspection, on a 145km section of the track linking Sharjah to Fujairah Port, His Highness Sheikh Theyab Bin Mohamed Bin Zayed, announced that Spain’s CAF had won a contract to supply and maintain the project’s passenger trains. The agreement was signed in the Sakamkam area of Fujairah City, and will be the site of the first passenger station.

Finally, when can we expect to be travelling on Etihad Rail?

There is no official completion date for the project yet although during a special ‘Projects of the 50’ event held at Expo2020 in December 2021, there were some indicators of intended timeline. It was confirmed that the Rail Passenger Services will be the second phase of the project (after freight) and is expected to carry more than 36.5 million passengers annually, by 2030. But with the network in excess of 70 per cent complete, we could very well be seeing posteriors on seats well before that.

Images: Provided