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Etihad Rail completes another milestone in national network project

UAE’s first rail marine bridge is part of package B of stage two of the project

Etihad Rail has completed another milestone in its Dh1.2 billion ($326.7 million) national rail network project by connecting Khalifa Port to the mainland with the construction of the Emirates’ first rail marine bridge.

Etihad Rail visit to learn more about the passenger line and developments since last year. Victor Besa / The National

The one-kilometre bridge, which runs parallel to the road link, will “improve the flow of goods to the region, and reduce shipping and trade costs”, said Khuloud Al Mazrouei, deputy project manager, Etihad Rail, who outlined details of the latest project update in a video shared on social media.

Ms Al Mazrouei said the connection was completed with the installation of the final one of 100 T-beams.

“The most important feature of this bridge is that it runs parallel to a road bridge of the same length, which connects the mainland of the emirate of Abu Dhabi with the sea container terminal,” Ms Al Mazrouei said.

“This ensures a smooth flow of tidal currents along the sides of the port and preserves the coral reefs.”

She said the construction of the marine bridge, which is being developed by 320 people who have recorded more than one million working hours so far, has encountered several issues.

“The biggest challenges are climate and environmental ones, caused by the area’s geography,” she said.

“These include tides, changes in the speed and direction of wind and high temperatures and humidity levels.

“We have dealt with such challenges during the construction works of the bridge, particularly during the building and designing of the T-beams, given their scale and size.”

Etihad Rail’s network will run for 1,200 kilometres across the UAE, from the border of Saudi Arabia to Fujairah.

Raileoad tracks depot at Saih Shuaib. Victor Besa / The National

The railway will link the principal centres of trade, industry, manufacturing, production, logistics, population and all the major import and export points of the UAE, as well as forming an integral part of the GCC railway network. ‍

In May, Etihad Rail said 75 per cent of the network had now been built. Construction has been divided into two stages, the second of which includes four packages.

Stage one — a freight service linking the gasfields at Shah and Habshan to Ruwais — opened in 2016. Each day, it carries up to 22,000 tonnes of granulated sulphur from Habshan and Shah to Ruwais for Abu Dhabi National Oil Company.

Stage two joins Ghuwaifat in the west to Fujairah on the east.

The new network will reduce commute time by 30 to 40 per cent compared with other modes of transport.

Travelling from Abu Dhabi to Dubai, and from Dubai to Fujairah, will take 50 minutes, while Abu Dhabi to Al Ruwais will take 70 minutes, and Abu Dhabi to Fujairah 100 minutes.

A launch date for the passenger line and the exact route for this service have not yet been announced, but plans for the first passenger station in Fujairah have been unveiled.

Railroad workers preparing tracks at the depot. Victor Besa / The National

The passenger trains will travel at up to 200km an hour and will link 11 cities and areas. Each can carry about 400 people.

Carriages will be equipped with vital amenities such as Wi-Fi, entertainment systems, charging points and food and beverage services.

Seating will include first class, business class and economy.

Once operational, the service is expected to carry more than 36million people annually by 2030.


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