Construction of the UAE’s railway network is “moving forward,” with routes now planned and the design of the project completed, according to Shadi Malak, chief executive officer of Etihad Rail.
Etihad Rail is the developer and operator of the UAE railway network, and Malak attended last week’s Middle East Rail to provide delegates with an update on the national railway plans.
He declined to elaborate on when the project will be completed, but insisted progress was being made.
The network was originally slated for completion at the end of 2018, but that was later rescheduled to the end of 2020 and then 2021, before being indefinitely paused.
In late 2018, the project was one more resumed.
Within the UAE, the 605-kilometre-project will extend from the borders of Saudi Arabia all the way to Fujairah and the northern emirates, Malak told delegates.
“We signed a number of key agreements with key beneficiaries and partners, [including] Abu Dhabi Ports Company and Zones Corp Abu Dhabi,” Malak said, referring to two separate projects to establish a freight station at Port Khalifa, and an inland container depot connected the UAE to Saudi Arabia.
Also speaking at the conference was Ahmad Al Khoury, director general of the UAE’s Federal Transport Authority (FTA), who said the upcoming rail network will play an active role in boosting the country’s economy, especially its logistics sector as cargo points are connected via rail.
He said that a federal law for establishing a railway in the UAE has been drafted, but yet to be approved. The law will cover different aspects of railways including infrastructure, licensing, safety, and best practices, among others.
The rail network is meant to connect key points within the UAE, but will also extend across the GCC, connecting all six countries in the region.
Asked about updates on the GCC network, Al Khoury said the UAE side was only working with Saudi Arabia and Oman, as they were the countries with whom the UAE shares borders, but did not provide details on the region-wide network.