UAE rail to link to GCC network

Abu Dhabi: Completion of the UAE railway by 2018 can only bring more prosperity not only to the UAE but also the country’s five GCC neighbours as rail lines are constructed across the region, said Etihad Rail .

The UAE railway will connect with the sources of raw materials, industrial areas, ports and major population centres, says Etihad Rail , and will be built in three phases, the first of which will be a 266km-long western stretch between Al Ruwais and Shah. The Shah-Habshan-Ruwais freight line is being built in collaboration with Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc).

The 2,177-km-long GCC rail network, which will link all six Gulf states by rail for the first time — providing an alternative to air or sea travel for both goods and passengers in the region — will be fully operational in 2018, said Dr Ramiz Al Assar, World Bank resident adviser of the GCC Secretariat General in Riyadh, in October.

“The designs of the nearly $200 billion (Dh734 billion) network, which will run down the Gulf coast from Kuwait, through Saudi Arabia, to the UAE and Oman, with branches linking Bahrain and Qatar, will be completed by the end of this year or in the first quarter of next year. Construction on the network is to start in 2014-15 and it will be fully operational in 2018,” Dr Al Assar told the Mena Rail and Metro Summit, being held in Abu Dhabi.

Abu Dhabi is leading the GCC rail network with its Dh40 billion Etihad Rail project. The 1,200-km line, planned to be completed in 2018, will link major industrial zones, cities and ports in the UAE, and will eventually connect with the GCC railway.

In October 2011, Etihad Rail signed an agreement with Adnoc to transport about seven million tonnes of granulated sulphur a year from Habshan and Shah to Al Ruwais in Abu Dhabi for export.

The second phase will connect Abu Dhabi with Dubai. It will also provide links to Jebel Ali port, Mussaffah and Khalifa port. The third phase will be the extension to link the northern emirates. The second phase is expected to be completed by 2016 and the third phase by 2017.

The Etihad Rail network will also connect with the GCC network and this — once fully established — will cover Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.