Etihad Rail/Opinion
Etihad Rail Image Credit: Gulf News

The creation of a transnational railway link that ties together the UAE and extends across much of the Arabian Gulf is much more than the sum of the steel rails and concrete sleepers that bind the reality together. It is the fulfilment of a great enterprise that will transform this region as never before.

To this day, the creation of railways across the United States from Atlantic to Pacific, across Russia from the Pacific to the Baltic, mark great technological and engineering milestones that have transformed economies, forged identities and built pride in the success of enterprise.

Here in the Arabian Gulf, where a new transnational rail network is taking shape across a unique landscape with its geophysical and climatic challenges, we can all soon look forward to reduced journey times, millions of passenger trips annually, and a modern engineering marvel that will reshape how goods are moved across this region — all in an environmentally-friendly manner.

Earlier this week, plans were detailed by Etihad Rail to build its first passenger train station on the UAE east coast. It will be constructed close to the city centre, the eastern terminal of a spur that is underway from Sharjah to Fujairah Port and Ras Al Khaimah.

For anyone who has even driven over the Hajar mountains, the engineering challenges are obvious, with extensive work on the rail route underway that will include a huge bridge at Al Bithnah, some 53 other bridges, and a chain of tunnels through those tunnels

When Etihad Rail is up and running, trains will be capable of travelling at 200kph. Fujairah to Abu Dhabi will take about an hour and 40 minutes.

Across the UAE, the sheer scale of the project is already evident, with a new bridge under construction across Sheikh Zayed Road allowing for access to Jebel Ali port. Indeed, a single train will be able to carry to loads equivalent to taking 400 trucks off our roads — transforming our economic by getting more goods to more markets and into more factories quickly and efficiently. And at the same time, we are significantly reducing our carbon emissions — again underscoring this nation’s commitment to a greener and cleaner future.

While no firm date has been set for the service to become fully operational, with each passing day the entire rail network takes shape. By 2030, some 30 million people will be using trains each year. Yes, day by day, this great dream is truly becoming an exciting reality.