UAE teams up with UK to boost rail network plans

The agreement between the Federal Transport Authority and the UK Ministry of Transport will provide the FTA will access to British know-how in safety standards and accident investigations.
The 1,200-km-long Etihad Rail project is being delivered in three key stages, with Stage 1 operations running since December 2015 and having transported more than 10 million tonnes of granulated sulphur as at April 2017 from sources in Shah and Habshan to the export point of Ruwais.
The 1,200-km-long Etihad Rail project is being delivered in three key stages, with Stage 1 operations running since December 2015 and having transported more than 10 million tonnes of granulated sulphur as at April 2017 from sources in Shah and Habshan to the export point of Ruwais.

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In another sign that the UAE’s plans for a wider network are back on the fast track, officials with the FTA have signed an agreement with UK rail officials that will provide help in regulating railways.

The agreement between the Federal Transport Authority and the UK Ministry of Transport will provide the FTA will access to British know-how in safety standards and accident investigations, as well as research and innovation.

It was signed by Dr Abdullah Al Nuaimi, Minister of Infrastructure Development and Chairman of the Federal Transport Authority, and Chris Grayling the UK’s Secretary of State for Transport.

As part of the deal, officials from both organisations will work together and take part in exchange visits when needed.

The UAE currently operates only the 264 kilometre freight line to Ruwais that carries sulphur by-products from the oilfields of Shah and Rabsham, but has plans to significantly expand its national network.

Those plans were put on hold two years ago, but now Etihad Rail is reported to be on the verge of offering tenders for the second stage of its network, which would expand freight services to 1,200 kilometres with stops in Khalifa Port and Jebel Ali in Dubai.

Abdullah Al Kathiri, Director General of the Federal Authority for Land and Marine Transport, has also previously indicated that the UAE rail network will have international border crossings within less than four years.

"By the end of December 2021 we will have a connection between us and the Saudis," he told the Reuters news agency.

In 2009, GCC members agreed to work towards a unified single GCC Rail Network by 2021. Most GCC countries are yet to begin work on the project though, suggesting that date may be unrealistic.

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