The Sandpiercer network is now 100 per cent complete…

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.

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Here’s the latest news on Etihad Rail

April 3, 2024: Watch UAE’s first marine railway bridge in action

The fact that we will soon be able to get on a train and ride from one city to another is exciting enough. But now, Etihad Rail has tweeted a video of the first-ever marine railway bridge connecting Khalifa Port to the Abu Dhabi mainland. The train is now fully operational following the news of the completion of the rail network.

Set to enhance the flow of goods, the bridge will run parallel to a road bridge of the same length. In case you’re worried, care has been taken to ensure the safety of the coral reefs in the port. The rail will also reduce carbon emissions in the road and transport sector by 21 per cent.

You can see it in action in the video below:

March 10, 2024: crossing borders

The prototype Etihad Rail passenger train travels from Abu Dhabi to Dubai with VIP cargo on board.

March 8, 2024: a Sharjah commute we can all get behind

Etihad Rail has confirmed that the emirate of Sharjah will be getting its own passenger train station. Which we assume is incredibly welcome news for those living or working there and currently commuting into/out of Dubai by road.

February 15, 2024: nol-edge fee

An MoU between the Road and Transport Authority (RTA) and Etihad Rail, means you’ll be able to use the nol service for travel aboard the Etihad Rail passenger service.

January 25, 2024: How you can be one of the first to try the Etihad Rail passenger train experience

OK, so disclaimer: it’s a prototype, but you can still be one of the first humans to experience how it will look and feel to travel on the super slick Etihad Rail passenger service by climbing aboard the marvellous mechanical mock-up at Abu Dhabi’s ADQ Community Carnival between January 26 to 28, held in Khalifa Park.

Proto-passengers will end up being part of a very exclusive group, with other fellow early alumni including the UAE’s royal families…

December 15, 2023: How Etihad Rail is helping save the planet

By replacing traffic on the roads, Etihad Rail is projected to reduce CO2 emissions from the transport sector by 21 per cent.

November 30, 2023: New passenger service announced for ADNOC staff

H.H. Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of Etihad Rail witnesses the signing of a partnership agreement between Etihad Rail and ADNOC, that will lead to a service carrying of ADNOC staff between Abu Dhabi City and Al Dannah – “showcasing the company’s vision for future passenger experiences”.

October 31, 2023: Reaching new heights

A video shared by Etihad Rail shows the tallest structure within the iconic Etihad megaproject. Al Bithnah Rail Bridge in Fujairah is an engineering marvel that spans an impressive 600 metres and soars to a towering height of 40 metres. Taking 19 months to build, the magnificent structure will play a significant role in connecting Fujairah to the rest of the UAE.

October 4, 2023: All aboard

A team from Al Emarat TV became amongst the first to ride the stunning Etihad Rail passenger service

But not before UAE royalty

August 13, 2023: Etihad Rail in numbers

The rail network is comprised of

  • 2,000 million concrete sleepers (in Abu Dhabi)
  • 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

July 13, 2023: Bridging connections

 

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A post shared by Etihad Rail (@etihad_rail)

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 to support the development 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.

January 18, 2023: A tale of two bridges

First up, the longest rail bridge on Dubai’s mainline network — Al Qudra Bridge.

And then there’s this, a stunning snap of an Etihad Rail locomotive chugging along a 1km marina bridge in Abu Dhabi.

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.

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 16 camel underpasses, 45 gazelle underpasses and 129 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.

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.

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.

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 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 are currently 38 of these heavy-lifting locomotives, which will be transporting 60 million tonnes of cargo by 2030. 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

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).

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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