When can we expect the UAE passenger train that will connect the 7 emirates?

The UAE “Sanpiercer” will carry 36.5 million passengers by 2030…

For those with a wanderlust, there’s something romantic about the idea of ​​train travel, especially when it traverses the kind of grand geography found in the United Arab Emirates.

This feeling of crossing borders, of hurtling towards the horizon while otherworldly plains flood the window. And that might be something we’ll experience here sooner than you think, following a new update released by the UAE Rail Program.

These are 50 billion dirhams “Projects of 50” launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President of the United Arab Emirates, Prime Minister and Governor of Dubai, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.

The rail line will stretch from the east coast of Fujairah to the far reaches of Saudi Arabia, linking the seven emirates with regular train service. There are even plans to take it beyond and to other Gulf States already in the works.

The UAE rail program will include the freight service operated by Etihad Rail; passenger rail services; and finally light rail solutions.

The People’s Train

The latest rail progress update was released during a special “Projects of 50” event at the Expo and contains exciting news for the passenger side of the UAE’s great rail adventure.

Speaking about the project, Shadi Malak, Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Rail, said “the passenger rail services will improve the transport system across the UAE, enabling passengers to travel from Abu Dhabi to Dubai in 50 minutes. and from Abu Dhabi to Fujairah in 100 minutes..”

Passenger rail services will be the second part of the project (after freight) and are expected to carry more than 36.5 million passengers per year by 2030.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said: “The Etihad Rail is the biggest 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 project is in line with the UAE’s environmental policy and will reduce carbon emissions by 70-80%,” he added.

First class

The third part of the project will be a “light metro” network in cities in the United Arab Emirates (like the Dubai Metro and Tram). Expect Samert systems to be fully integrated here, enabling seamless ride and booking experiences for passengers.

Move Stacks

We’ve already seen Etihad Rail run the early phases of what will eventually be a 1,200km national rail line that will connect the seven emirates to Saudi Arabia. Significant sections of track have already been completed in Abu Dhabi and after the completion of the first phase (which started in 2016) there is a section of track between Shah and Habshan, and the port of Ruwais in the region from Al Dhafra to Abu Dhabi, which is already used for transporting sulphur.

Glamour? Not really. Scented with the aroma of stale egg and watercress sandwiches? Almost certainly. But moving this vital industrial resource by rail rather than road has already saved two million truck journeys, equating to a net reduction in carbon emissions of around 70-80%.

The protection of the environment

Etihad Rail has established key partnerships with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) and the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD) to ensure minimal disturbance to wildlife and heritage during the construction of the track.

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Etihad Rail avoids crossing breeding sites; it uses noise control technology to limit sound levels and has pledged to use the horn only in emergencies; there is a vegetation replanting plan; the track is lined with special fences and has so far provided 10 camel underpasses, 22 gazelle underpasses and 78 reptile underpasses; the locomotives also comply with Tier 3 (EPA) engine emissions levels, which is a good thing for everyone.

Additional Benefits

So, the UAE railway program is a big deal for environmental, industrial and passenger transport reasons, but there were other reasons to choose it as a project?

Economically. Let’s take a look at some key numbers behind the project. By 2030, the rail program will provide over 9,000 jobs and create “economic opportunities” worth around Dhs200 billion; the estimated benefits of reducing carbon emissions amount to 21 billion and road maintenance savings of 8 billion Dhs have been projected; then, of course, there is the additional tourist activity valued at 23 billion Dhs over the next 50 years; and the benefits of public spending on the UAE economy will reach 23 billion dirhams.

All in all, this program is shaping up to be a rather nifty, carbon-efficient project of the 1950s.

Images: Etihad Rail

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Jose P. Rogers