Etihad Rail: a look at the first waterfront rail bridge in the UAE
Sandpiercer, here we come…
We’ve put together a consolidatory dispatch from the front line of the passenger train that will link 11 hubs across the seven emirates of the UAE.
It’s part of an expansive project with future ambitions that extend beyond our borders and into the rest of the GCC.
Here’s the latest news on Etihad Rail
August 13, 2023: Etihad Rail in numbers
The rail network is comprised of
- 2 million concrete sleepers
- 8 million screws and anchors, made locally
- 593 crossings and bridges
- 1 kilometre – the length of the first marine rail bridge in the UAE connecting Khalifa port to the rest of the UAE network
- 9.6 kilometres – the length of track at Ruawis station
- 9,000 tonnes of asphalt has been used at Guhwaifat station
Etihad Rail links major trade hubs in Abu Dhabi and the UAE, through an extensive network of numerous depots and 593 bridges and crossings. The project will facilitate freight and passenger transport, supporting further social and economic development in the UAE. pic.twitter.com/aEpKjWlTXn
— مكتب أبوظبي الإعلامي (@ADMediaOffice) August 13, 2023
July 13, 2023: Bridging connections
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If you drive under the Etihad Rail bridges in Dubai, take a look at the rail’s latest video which will give you an aerial tour. The city will be home to 11 bridges, the largest of which is the Al Qudra Bridge spanning 611 meters long. The video also shares a view of the Expo Bridge which is 391 meters long.
June 21, 2023: Etihad Rail becomes the UAE’s own ‘Rocky Mountaineer’
Etihad Rail has released a video of our forever favourite UAE transport mega project cutting its way through a 145km stretch of the Hajar Mountains on its way to the port of Fujairah. Along their way, passenger and freight trains will weave through nine tunnels, at a total length of almost 7km; multiple bridges including the 40m high, 600m long Al-Bithnah Bridge which from its perch will offer elevated views over breathtaking verdant rocky vistas, and maybe (just maybe) even a glimpse of the nearby the Al-Bithnah Fort.
#EtihadRail has successfully overcome construction challenges in building the National Railway Network, especially the track that traverses through the Hajar Mountains all the way to the vibrant port of Fujairah. This path is characterized by the fact that it passes through one… pic.twitter.com/i6TIU7P9Jx
— Etihad Rail (@Etihad_Rail) June 20, 2023
May 18, 2023: These are the drones you’re looking for
Another future tech moment at the Middle East Rail Exhibition and Conference. Etihad Rail has announced that it will be using drone tech to inspect it’s freight services.
وقعت شركة الاتحاد للقطارات مذكرة تفاهم مع “سكايغو” Skygo، الشركة المتخصصة بعمليات الشحن باستخدام الطائرات المسيّرة. pic.twitter.com/dUuCPuANDd
— Etihad Rail (@Etihad_Rail) May 18, 2023
May 18, 2023: Uber exciting news
At the Middle East Rail Exhibition and Conference (attended by 10,000 visitors), it was confirmed that a Memorandum of Understanding that Uber will partner up with Etihad Rail.
#EtihadRail signed an MoU with global technology company @Uber to provide accessible and integrated transportation across the UAE during the #MiddleEastRail Exhibition and Conference. pic.twitter.com/MXXYVixsjk
— Etihad Rail (@Etihad_Rail) May 18, 2023
April 28, 2023: Have freight will travel
With Etihad Rail’s cargo service now in operation, you can get your freight shipped from Al Faya to anywhere in the UAE.
Efficiently transport your cargo with Etihad Rail’s containerized freight services. Our state-of-the-art fleet is equipped to handle any load, including containers, ensuring fast and reliable transport from Al Faya to anywhere in the UAE. pic.twitter.com/hW8ZwvHgfh
— Etihad Rail (@Etihad_Rail) April 28, 2023
April 17, 2023: Building bridges
Set against some stunning Fujairah mountainscape, this — what is the highest railway bridge in the UAE — looks even more majestic.
The Al-Bithnah Bridge is the highest railway bridge in the United Arab Emirates and is considered a testament to the immense challenges faced by this large-scale project. pic.twitter.com/r37OFGhXn7
— Etihad Rail (@Etihad_Rail) April 17, 2023
April 10, 2023: The quickest route from A to B
Mountain in your way? Not an issue for the engineering maestros of the UAE, you just take a route straight through it.
— Etihad Rail (@Etihad_Rail) April 10, 2023
— Etihad Rail (@Etihad_Rail) April 25, 2023
April 6, 2023: When good neighbours become friends
Etihad Rail have been keen to demonstrate just how important conservation is to their project, and how much work is going into their beig ‘a good neighbour’, with minimal environmental impact initiatives, maximum volume limits and respect of delicate ecosystems, more on this below.
Take a look at our bridge in Al Maha Forest in Abu Dhabi, also home to a diversity of wildlife. As part of our commitment to being a Good Neighbour, Etihad Rail has taken steps to protect and conserve the UAE’s rich natural heritage and biodiversity pic.twitter.com/0eeAqCBJvK
— Etihad Rail (@Etihad_Rail) April 6, 2023
February 28, 2023: Job done…
According to the Etihad Rail website, “The National Rail Network is complete”. And as a demonstration of this, commercial freight operations have already begun.
The UAE National Railway Network is one of the largest infrastructure projects in the country, with 11 contractors, 25 consultants and 180 government entities collaborating to successfully complete the network. pic.twitter.com/LMcToljs1G
— Etihad Rail (@Etihad_Rail) February 28, 2023
When will the Etihad Rail passenger services start?
It may be sooner than we thought. There were some recent images captured at The National Rail Network’s inauguration, showing a group of delegates including HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai sitting on a pretty finished looking interior of a passenger train carriage.
February 21, 2023: Crossing borders
Oman Rail and Etihad Rail have struck an accord, partnering with Mubadala and committing to a 303km stretch of track that will unite the two GCC nations by rail.
The 200kph connection will reduce travel times from Sohar in Oman, to the city of Abu Dhabi to just 100 minutes.
.@Etihad_Rail and @Oman_Rail joint venture, the Oman-Etihad Rail Company, has partnered with @Mubadala to develop the 303km UAE-Oman rail network route, worth more than AED11 billion, connecting Oman’s Sohar Port with the UAE National Rail Network. pic.twitter.com/47EbnVU3tK
— مكتب أبوظبي الإعلامي (@admediaoffice) February 21, 2023
January 18, 2023: A tale of two bridges
First up, the longest rail bridge on Dubai’s mainline network — Al Qudra Bridge.
Based in the Emirate of Dubai, our Al Qudra bridge is the longest rail bridge within the Emirate’s mainline network, forming a vital route for trade and commerce which positively contributes to the movement of goods throughout the UAE. pic.twitter.com/i1WrbRij6f
— Etihad Rail (@Etihad_Rail) January 24, 2023
And then there’s this, a stunning snap of an Etihad Rail locomotive chugging along a 1km marina bridge in Abu Dhabi.
Take a look at Etihad Rail train as it passes through our 1 km marine bridge connecting Khalifa port to the national railway network. This will improve the efficiency of goods transportation and cuts down on shipping expenses. pic.twitter.com/AotaAk4BQs
— Etihad Rail (@Etihad_Rail) January 18, 2023
January 11, 2023: Breezing through the trees
The Etihad Rail Twitter account has just given us a tantalising snapshot of what it will feel like commuting through the picturesque landscape of Al Maha Forest. Past patchwork snatches of green, breezing past the local wildlife (and if you’re concerned about noise/natural habitats please see below) and giving big iconic train journey vibes.
Take a look at our tracks in Al Maha Forest in Abu Dhabi, a beautiful destination to observe the rare desert dwellers. Etihad Rail took careful measures to protect the natural habitats and pic.twitter.com/VuPOsQlCVl
— Etihad Rail (@Etihad_Rail) January 11, 2023
On protecting wildlife
Etihad Rail has key partnerships with the Department of Culture and Tourism — Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) and the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) to help ensure minimal wildlife and heritage disruption occurs from the track’s construction.
The Al Maha Forest area for example is home to a number of important species in the UAE, including the Arabian oryx, antelopes and bustard birds. Located in Abu Dhabi, the forest stretches over 5.5km alongside the Package B route and will hopefully afford some incredible animal spotting opportunities along the way.
Etihad Rail avoids crossing breedings sites; it uses noise control tech to limit sound levels, and has committed to only using the horn in emergencies; there’s a vegetation replanting scheme; the track is lined with special fencing and has made provision for 10 camel underpasses, 22 gazelle underpasses and 78 reptile underpasses so far; the locomotives also conform to Tier 3 (EPA) engine emission levels, which is a good thing for everyone.
November 22, 2022: 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.
يقع جسر البثنة في الفجيرة، وهو جسر جبلي خلاب للسكك الحديدية يتصل بأنفاق تشق طريقها عبر جبال الحجر، ما يسهل الطريق التجاري من الفجيرة إلى باقي مناطق دولة الإمارات.ويعد الجسر البالغ طوله 600 متر أعلى جسر للسكك الحديدية في الدولة. pic.twitter.com/xlV1VaGjQn
— Etihad Rail (@Etihad_Rail) November 22, 2022
October 18, 2022: 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, 2022: 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.
We have achieved significant progress with the network expansion by successfully connecting the Emirates of Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah to the UAE National Railway Network’s main line. With the completion of this milestone, pic.twitter.com/XTSfcVSb6E
— Etihad Rail (@Etihad_Rail) October 12, 2022
October 7, 2022: 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.
Follow the journey of our first ever train traveling from our Mirfa Depot to our ICAD freight terminal, marking the transition from our current operations in Al Dhafra to the new opportunities unfolding ahead of us to maneuver goods within the capital and throughout the emirates. pic.twitter.com/FdVkxC2sAd
— Etihad Rail (@Etihad_Rail) October 7, 2022
September 30, 2022: 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 anticipated 303-km railway, that will be established by Etihad Rail and Oman Rail, will link between Abu Dhabi and Sohar. The travel distance will be reduced from Sohar to Abu Dhabi to 100 minutes and from Sohar to Al Ain to 47 minutes. pic.twitter.com/nZqZIPCGEm
— Etihad Rail (@Etihad_Rail) September 30, 2022
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.
Etihad Rail has achieved a new milestone with the successful arrival of its new and advanced rolling stock fleet consisting of locomotives and wagons. The first batches arrived in the UAE via Zayed and Al Musaffah Ports, pic.twitter.com/kUJmzLcZjK
— Etihad Rail (@Etihad_Rail) August 18, 2022
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 are 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 were 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
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.
Etihad Rail will connect 11 cities and regions in the UAE from Sila’a to Fujairah and contribute to reducing commuting time by up to 40 per cent compared to other land transport means, enhancing transport ecosystems and quality of life for citizens and residents. pic.twitter.com/o3Je3qG2YJ
— مكتب أبوظبي الإعلامي (@admediaoffice) June 23, 2022
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).
A first look at the latest construction progress of our rail bridge on the E11, Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai. Our bridge built on E11 will enable trains to enter the Jebal Ali rail terminal promoting the facilitation of trade both internationally and regionally. pic.twitter.com/45oGeR323j
— Etihad Rail (@Etihad_Rail) June 22, 2022
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.