The cargo reached the UAE via Zayed and Al Musaffah Ports. Image Credit: Etihad Rail

The first batches of Etihad Rail’s new locomotives and wagons have landed in the UAE, the rail network operator said on Thursday.

The shipment is part of the railway operator’s plan to increase its fleet of heavy freight locomotives by around six times to 45.

The EMD SD70 electro-motive diesel locomotives are being manufactured by Progress Rail, a Caterpillar company in the US, while China’s CRRC Group is supplying the wagons.

Etihad Rail is also expanding the size of its wagon fleet to over 1,000, three times the current fleet.

“Upon completion and becoming fully operational, the network will contribute to revitalising and bolstering economic growth in the UAE, particularly during the next 50 years, by providing reliable and safe freight services with high efficiency,” said Mohammed Al Marzouqi, Executive Director of Rail Relations Sector at Etihad Rail.

“The network will also contribute to the region’s economic growth upon its connection with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) network, which will consolidate the UAE’s position as a regional and global centre for shipping and logistics services. This achievement comes as part of the company’s preparations to operate the network according to the highest global standards in the future.”

The cargo reached the UAE via Zayed and Al Musaffah Ports.

Each locomotive can pull 100 wagons, which is equivalent to the capacity of 300 trucks. Image Credit: Etihad Rail

Specialised fleet

Etihad Rail’s new fleet has been designed specifically to withstand the geographic, climate conditions, and the high temperatures and humidity levels in the GCC region.

The fleet will help increase the capacity of the UAE National Rail Network to more than 60 million tonnes of goods per year. The new fleet will also contribute towards reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 70-80 per cent.

Advanced locomotives

Each of the fleet’s new diesel-and-electricity-operated EMD SD70 locomotives provides 4,600 BHP, and is equipped with the latest innovations such as the pulse sand filtering system, which ensures that the train operates at high effectiveness and efficiency when passing through desert regions.

The locomotives are equipped with advanced on-board technologies and systems like the European Train Control System (ETCS) Level 2, the most advanced signalling system of its kind, in order to ensure safety, security, and reliability, in addition to efficiency and sustainability.

Each locomotive can pull 100 wagons, which is equivalent to the capacity of 300 trucks. The volume of goods transported by these trains is equivalent to 5,600 daily truck trips.

“Our diesel-electric EMD SD70 locomotives meet the highest global standards,” commented Marty Haycraft, Progress Rail President and CEO. “Etihad Rail’s new fleet is a great example of what our customers have come to expect from our advanced locomotives, which are designed to perform in extreme conditions.”

Multi-function wagons

The wagons are equipped with the latest braking, signalling, control, communication, and safety systems. They can transport goods such as petrochemicals, raw steel and its products, limestone, cement, building materials, industrial and household waste, aluminum, food, and assorted goods.

The new locomotives and wagons will be stored at Etihad Rail’s facilities in Al Mirfa until the completion of construction work on the UAE National Railway Network.

Ben Quak, General Manager of CRRC UAE, said: “CRRC is excited to be a partner in Stage Two of the UAE National Rail Network, contributing to the growth of Etihad Rail, the UAE, and the region by supporting the development of the rail industry. We are pleased to witness the successful delivery of the multi-function wagons, which will contribute to reducing carbon emissions and provide safe, sustainable, and efficient services.”

Expanding rail network

Etihad Rail was established in June 2009, and has successfully completed Stage One of the network. The route spans 264km, transporting granulated sulphur from sources at Shah and Habshan to the export point at Ruwais.

Stage Two links the UAE and Saudi Arabia from Fujairah Port to Ghuweifat through Mussafah, Khalifa Port and Jebel Ali Port. Etihad Rail’s network will span approximately 1,200km.