Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed join other officials at the launch of the UAE Railways Program.

The UAE Government has announced the launch of the UAE Railways Program, the largest integrated system for transporting goods and passengers across the country, worth AED50 billion ($13.61 billion).

The programme constitutes an integrated strategy for the railway sector in the UAE for the coming decades, as it includes a national network of railway projects that link the emirates and the key cities of the country.

It was launched in the presence of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, and HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.

The UAE Railways Program was launched during a special event celebrating the Projects of the 50, held at  Expo Dubai 2020. The event highlighted the objectives of the programme and the stages of the Etihad Rail project, which connects Ghuwaifat on the border with Saudi Arabia to the port of Fujairah on the Eastern Coast.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said: “The Etihad Rail is the largest project to consolidate the strength of the union for the next 50 years. It will connect 11 key cities and regions across the UAE.”

“The UAE’s infrastructure is among the best in the world, and the Etihad Rail will further enhance the UAE’s excellence in the logistical field. The project comes in line with the environmental policy of the UAE and it will reduce carbon emissions by 70-80 per cent.”

The UAE Railway Program includes three key projects; the first is the freight rail, which includes the Etihad Rail freight services.  The second project is the rail passenger services that aim to connect 11 cities with the UAE from Al Sila to Fujairah. At a speed of 200 km/h, the service will link cities within the UAE, where passengers can travel from Abu Dhabi to Dubai in 50 minutes, and from Abu Dhabi to Fujairah in 100 minutes. By 2030, the number of passengers is expected to reach more than 36.5 million annually.

The third project is the integrated transportation service, where an innovation centre will be established to ensure the integration of the smart transportation solutions. A network of light rail will be connected to the Rail Passenger System to facilitate transportation inside UAE cities.

The UAE Railway Program creates enormous economic opportunities amounting to AED200 billion; the estimated benefits of reducing carbon emissions amount to AED21 billion, road maintenance AED8 billion, in addition to achieving tourism benefits estimated at AED23 billion during the next 50 years, while the public benefits on the UAE economy will reach AED23 billion.

Etihad Rail launched operations of Stage One in 2016. Etihad Rail commenced construction of Stage Two in early 2020, achieving in less than 24 months 70 per cent of this stage, despite the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic.