UAE Railways Programme
The development and construction of the phase of Etihad railways fall under the initiative of the UAE Railways Programme. The program was launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister, and Ruler of Dubai, and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. The initiative is targeted to accelerate UAE’s development in different industrial sectors and to attract talent and investors. It will also fulfill the greater aim of the program to create the largest integrated system for transporting goods and passengers across the country. As per His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Etihad rail is all set to be the largest project to consolidate the strength of the union for the next fifty years. It will connect 11 key cities and regions across the UAE.
The Etihad phase 2 incorporates expanding the existing network to Ghuweifat on the border with Saudi Arabia, east to the city of Fujairah on the Gulf of Oman. This will expand the existing 264km long phase 1 and increase the network up to a massive 1200km. The approximate cost of constructing and implementing the project is $4.5 Billion. Future route additions are on the cards, for now, the network will connect the Emirates via Abu Dhabi, KIZAD, Khalifa Port, Jebel Ali Port, Dubai, Sharjah, Ras al-Khaimah, and Fujairah on the East Coast. This will increase the connectivity amongst major industrial ports and trading hubs of the country.
Phase 2 package B and C will cover the construction to link Stage One from Khalifa Port, Khalifa Industrial City, and Jebel Ali Port. The estimated cost of construction of the two packages collectively is about $1.5 Billion. Package B will run from Tarif and extend for 216 km to Saih Shuaib, and includes a link to Khalifa Industrial Zone, Abu Dhabi, Khalifa Port, and the Industrial City of Abu Dhabi. The Sharjah-Jebel Ali Package 2C will run from Saih Shuaib to Sharjah for 94 km with a connection to Jebel Ali comprising 74km line in Dubai and a 20km branch to Jebel Ali port. The two design-build packages include earthworks, bridges and tunnels, animal crossings, and tracklaying. The tracklaying of package 2B and 2C have been inaugurated by Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s Court and chairman of Etihad Rail in June 2021.
Etihad Rail has awarded a civil works and construction contract of $1.25 billion for Phase 2 Package D. Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed disclosed to Emirates News Agency that, “The awarding of this contract is a highly significant achievement as Etihad Rail follows its path to progressing one of the most important and economically strategic projects in the UAE.” The project will cover the construction to connect the port of Fujairah in continuation of Stage Two Package C from the Dubai to Sharjah border, passing through the Emirates of Sharjah, Fujairah, and Ras al-Khaimah, which will consist of 35 bridges, valleys and wadis, 32 underpasses, and 15 tunnels, totaling 16 kilometers. A rail network connection between Fujairah and Khorfakkan ports will aid the transportation of two million twenty-foot equivalent container units (TEUs) on an annual basis. The authorities concerned believe that this will provide great momentum to UAE’s international trade.
The commercial activity of Phase 1 of the Etihad rail commenced in 2016, and it is running successfully. Etihad Rail Phase 1 has enabled the transportation of more than 30 million tonnes of granulated sulphur, which amounts to around 2.8 million truck trips. As Phase One witnesses impactful success, Phase Two constructions, launched in 2018, have also shown massive advancement. About 70% of the construction has been completed in the span of 24 months, notwithstanding the Covid-19 pandemic. With ample financing and consistent progress on the construction of Phase 2, Etihad is on its way to meet the defined plans and contribute to the aims of the UAE Railway Program.