Etihad Rail changes track – gets commercial approval
Etihad Rail has received official safety authorisations from the United Arab Emirates’ Federal Transport Authority to begin commercial operations on stage one of its 264 kilometre route, which forms part of the wider US $40-billion UAE rail network spanning across 1,200 kms.
Stage one will transport sulphur from Shah and Habshan to the port of Ruwais twice daily, with each train transporting 11,000 tonnes, dramatically decreasing the number of trucks on the road, according to statement from the company.
“During the past year, we have already transported more than three million tonnes of sulphur from Shah and Habshan to the port of Ruwais for our customer, the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), as part of the testing and commissioning and trial operations phases,” said chairman of Etihad Rail Nasser Alsowaidi.
“We now look forward to taking our operations to full commercial capacity, which will see Etihad Rail transport as much as seven million tonnes of sulphur every year,” he added.
In the same statement it was confirmed that work has started on the second phase of the project, which will connect Abu Dhabi with Saudi Arabia via Ghweifat and Oman through Al Ain. Stage 2 will also connect vital areas such as Mussaffah, Khalifa Port and Jebel Ali Port in Dubai.
The preliminary design and engineering for the second phase has been completed and the tender process for six construction packages is in the final stages of evaluation, Etihad Rail’s regulatory affairs advisor John Thomas confirmed.
“Stage two will represent a major step to link the UAE to the wider Gulf Cooperation Council rail network by connecting the country to Saudi Arabia and Oman, and initial construction is expected to commence soon after contracts have been finalised and awarded,” he said.
The rail network is intended to support both freight and passenger operations, but it is understood that the UAE’s freight needs are currently the priority of rail officials.