Last December, the UAE government launched the UAE Railway program as part of the ‘Project of the 50’, the plan that aims at developing the UAE’s economy across all sectors thanks to fifty different projects.
The Etihad Rail aims to develop a sustainable road transport system connecting 11 major cities in the UAE, from the border with Saudi Arabia to the port of Fujairah on the east coast and bringing the neighboring countries closer: it stretches till the borders of Saudi, Qatar, and Oman.
The country will benefit from the program in many ways:
It will provide more than 9.000 jobs in the railway and supporting sectors by 2030.
Powered by electricity produced from non-fossil fuels and taking thousands of cars off the roads, it will reduce carbon emissions by 70% -80% over the next 50 years, helping the country achieve the zero-emission goal by 2050.
Over the next 50 years, the program will create economic opportunities worth 200 billion dirhams; it will save 8 billion dirhams on road maintenance and 21 billion dirhams on carbon emissions; tourism will also benefit from 23 billion dirhams.
The program will improve road safety, reducing accidents on the roads as the railway will run fast across the desert and along the highways; in case of intersections, there will be no level crossings but bridges, tunnels, and overpasses.
Initially, the UAE government allocated 50 billion dirhams for freight movement only, but now the Railway project consists of three parts. Freight Rail, Rail Passenger Service, and Integrated Transportation Services will cover a total distance of 1.200 km.
The first phase of the Freight Rail commenced in 2009. It was fully operational by January 2016 and transported granulated Sulphur. The UAE government launched Stage Two in 2018. Despite the pandemic, 70% of this phase was completed in 24 months, confirming that its construction is on schedule.
The UAE government announced the Rail Passenger Service only late last year. The trains will move at 200km/h, connecting Abu Dhabi to Dubai in 50 minutes; they will carry about 400 people. At the moment, there is not a launch date for the Rail Passenger Service. By 2030 the number of passengers is expected to reach more than 36.5 million annually.
The Integrated Transportation Services will integrate smart transportation solutions and a light rail connection to the Passenger system that facilitate transportation within UAE cities.
The UAE Railway program is a milestone in the road transport sector and will be the true reflection of the ‘Project of the 50’. It is one of the most meaningful infrastructure projects as it will be the largest integrated system for transporting goods and passengers countrywide.