But when will it be pulling into a station near you..?

For those whose hearts hold a healthy dose of wanderlust, there’s something particularly romantic about the idea of rail travel, especially when it passes through the sort of big geography you find in the UAE.

That feeling of crossing frontiers, powering towards the horizon with otherworldly plains flooding past the window. And it could be something we get to experience here sooner than you think, following a new update issued by the UAE Rail Programme.

The Etihad Rail passenger train service is a part of a massive Dhs50 billion project (which also includes a huge freight service component too) with future ambitions that extend beyond our borders and into the rest of the GCC.

And this National Day, we got a privileged sneak peek at what the business ends of these on-rail reverie wagons look like — with the unveiling of an immaculately executed, moving prototype (check it out below).

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: Twitter