By A. Samuel www.rail.co
On March 23 Etihad Rail, the operator of the UAE’s first railway network formerly known as Union Railway, unveiled its new dynamic corporate identity.
Etihad Rail also revealed its future plans for the nationwide railway project and its phases of implementation. It announced that its first route will be completed in 2013 to transport the first shipment of granulated sulphur from Shah and Habshan to Ruwais.
The conference presented details about the project, shedding light on the railway’s social, economic and environmental benefits, and highlighted the rationale behind the new corporate identity.
H.E. Nasser Al Sowaidi stated in his presentation that the Etihad Rail network is one of the most significant national projects in the development of the UAE, as it looks to provide the country with a modern, safe, and integrated railway network.
This flagship project was established by the Federal Government under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, in line with major investment initiatives including Vision 2021 and the Abu Dhabi Vision 2030.
H.E. Al Sowaidi said: “The development of an integrated railway network signifies the inception of a new chapter of transport in the UAE. The railway network will form an imperative part of the country’s infrastructure and promote integration between various methods of transportation, both current and planned for the future.”
The Etihad Rail network is expected to extend up to 1,200km in length, connecting the Emirates and linking the UAE to Saudi Arabia (via Ghweifat) in the west and to Oman (via Al Ain) in the east.
Built in line with the latest technologies in accordance with the highest international standards, the railway will also form a vital part of the greater GCC railway network – facilitating trade, opening up communication channels, and fostering economic and infrastructure development.
The company say the network will be vital in sustaining national prosperity, driving social development and economic growth, and dramatically improving the UAE’s transport and logistics sectors by linking ports and industry. Etihad have predicted around 50 million tonnes of freight and 16 million passengers in the first instance.
Mattar Al Tayer, Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of Etihad Rail, explained that the mixed-traffic railway network is set to be developed in three phases. Phase 1 of the project incorporates the Shah-Habshan-Ruwais route – with the link between Habshan and Ruwais scheduled to be completed in the beginning of 2013 and that between Shah and Habshan by the end of 2014.
Phase 2 involves the construction of the remainder of the Abu Dhabi Emirate network and a connection to Dubai – covering vital areas such as Mussaffah and the Khalifa and Jebel Ali ports.
The third and final phase entails the implementation of the rest of the network in the Northern Emirates.