Video: Watch UAE’s first trains on the tracks
It is only a matter of time, and the first trains of the GCC Railway will officially be operating, and they will do so in no other place than the UAE.
Currently services are doing test rounds, but the freight trains of Etihad Rail will commence their official services very soon.
This video shows the test rounds of Eithad Rail.
The route is a 150km-long track stretching from Habshan to Ruwais, both located in the most eastern corner of the UAE. Later this year, this route will be extended to southern city of Shah, when the railway will cover 264km.
Habshan and Shah are the main sources of sulphur, an important export product for the UAE. By train, sulphur in granulated form will be transported to Ruwais, where it is exported to countries around the world. The freight trains will be able to do this at a speed of 120km per hour.
However, the freight transport route is only the start of a network that is set to connect most of the country to a wider network covering the GCC region.
As soon as 2018, all six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries will be connected through a rail network covering a distance of 2,177km. From Oman, it will cross the border to the UAE, from where it will lead to Saudi Arabia. Links will be established to connect Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait to the network.
While each of the countries is laying the network on its territories, the UAE is at the forefront, being the first to see the freight trains run on rails. Etihad Rail, the responsible authority in the UAE, is about to award another 150km of rail network.
In the second stage of the project, the railway will be extended to Ghweifat, where it will connect to the Saudi border, and towards Al Ain, where it will connect to the Omani border.
Further, the railway will be extended northwards to reach Mussafah, the Gulf ports of Khalifa, and Jebel Ali, with the freight network expected to be completed in 2017.
The remainder of the mixed-traffic network in Abu Dhabi and the connection to Jebel Ali Port is safeguarded, and preliminary engineering is complete. The contracts to be awarded are for the actual building and designing of this part of the rail network, which will total 630km.
In the last stage of the project, the network will be extended to the Northern Emirates of Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah, adding another 280km to the rail network in the UAE.
The rail network is set to become a mixed-use network where freight and passenger transportation will follow the same rail network. Passenger trains will be operated at a speed of 200km per hour, making it the fastest mode of transportation over land.
The total network in the UAE is expected to stretch along 1,200km, and is realised at a total investment of Dh40 billion.
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