His Excellency Nasser Al Sowaidi, chairman of Etihad Rail, confirmed the initial phase of the network between the Gulf Coast port of Ruwais and Habshan will be completed in early in 2013, when Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) will dispatch its first rail-borne shipment of granulated sulphur. The line will be extended to Shah by the end of 2014.
The second stage of the project involves constructing the remainder of the network in Abu Dhabi and the line to Dubai, including links to Mussaffah and the ports of Khalifa and Jebel Ali. The third and final phase will extend the tracks into the Northern Emirates to serve Sharjah, Fujairah, and Khor Fakkan. There will also be a links to Oman through Al Ain, and to the Saudi network via Ghweifat.
The company says it has made dramatic progress since its establishment in 2009, and many of the detailed technical, commercial and financial studies for the Dirhams 40 billion ($US 10.9 billion) network have now been completed. Freight and passenger volumes have been modelled for the next 20-30 years, and suggest the network will carry 50 million tonnes of freight and 16 million passengers "can reliably be predicted."
"The development of an integrated railway network signifies the inception of a new chapter of transport in the UAE," says Al Sowaidi. "The railway will form an imperitive part of the country's infrastructure and promote integration between various forms of transport."