(MENAFN- Emirates News Agency (WAM))
ABU DHABI, 23rd June, 2022 (WAM) -- H.H. Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of Crown Prince Court and Chairman of Etihad Rail, has visited the final package of Stage Two of the UAE National Rail Network, which extends for 145 kilometres from Sharjah to Fujairah Port and Ras Al Khaimah, to review the progress of rail construction works in these emirates.
During the visit, which started in Al Suyoh area in Sharjah and concluded in Sakamkam, Sheikh Theyab inspected key landmarks on the project's route in the final package of Stage Two of the network; starting with the rail bridge in Al Suyoh area in Sharjah, followed by a stop in Al Bithnah area in Fujairah to visit Al Bithnah bridge. He then headed to visit a number of tunnels where he witnessed tracklaying works across the tunnels in Al Hajar Mountains in Fujairah.
H.H. reaffirmed the continuous support and guidance of President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan for Etihad Rail's ambitious national project throughout the past years. Today, Etihad Rail is continuing its commitment to achieving more successes, building upon the foundations established by the UAE's leadership for developing the transport system and achieving economic prosperity through the development of the UAE National Rail Network.
Etihad Rail is enhancing its contribution to the UAE's development by shaping the rail industry and setting business models and client behaviours. The company has made consecutive achievements, which reflect the project's role in shaping the transport sector's future, in line with the UAE's journey of excellence.
Following the inspection tour, in his next stop, Sheikh Theyab, accompanied by Suhail bin Mohammed Al Mazrouei, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, witnessed the signing of an agreement between Etihad Rail and Spain's CAF company, one of the world leaders in the railway sector, for designing, manufacturing, supplying, and maintaining passenger trains for the Etihad Rail project valued at AED1.2 billion.
Sheikh Theyab lauded the agreement, which serves as a major step in developing the UAE's passenger transport services, in line with the company's commitment to completing the national and strategic project on schedule, and according to the best practices.
The agreement, which emerged as a result of Etihad Rail's success at the Middle East Rail 2022, was signed by Shadi Malak, Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Rail; and Josu Imaz, Chief Executive Officer Rolling Stock of CAF, in the presence of Antonio Álvarez Barthe, Ambassador of Spain to the UAE, and officials from both sides.
The agreement was signed in Sakamkam area, where the first passenger train station will be built in the heart of Fujairah city.
Under the terms of the agreement, CAF will design, manufacture, supply, and provide maintenance for passenger trains as per the European standards. Each train will have a seating capacity of over 400 passengers and will run up to 200 km/h. The trains, which will offer a variety of seating segments, will serve as a major addition to the public transport system in the UAE.
The passenger trains will facilitate transport across the cities of the UAE, providing passengers with a quick, efficient, safe, comfortable, and cost-saving travel experience.
Through its partnership with CAF, Etihad Rail will benefit from CAF's long-standing experience for more than 100 years, in providing advanced solutions for improving the rail commuter's expertise and providing passengers with high levels of safety, efficiency and quality.
The passenger train will connect 11 cities and regions in the UAE from Al Sila to Fujairah, including Al Ruwais, Al Mirfa, Dubai, Sharjah, Al Dhaid, and Abu Dhabi.
Passenger services will allow travellers to plan their journeys between the Emirates and cities of the UAE more efficiently, from booking their tickets until they reach their final destination. They will reduce commute time by 30-40% compared to other modes of transport, where travelling from Abu Dhabi to Dubai, and from Dubai to Fujairah, will take only 50 minutes only, travelling from Abu Dhabi to Al Ruwais will take 70 minutes only, while travelling from Abu Dhabi to Fujairah will take 100 minutes only.
The passenger trains will be equipped with the latest cutting-edge technologies that suit the topography and climate of the UAE, which is key for ensuring high performance, efficiency, and reliability. The trains will provide various amenities, entertainment, and comfortable seating at high levels of security, efficiency, and quality, allowing passengers to enjoy exceptional journeys.
The trains will be equipped with modern amenities, including infotainment systems, charging stations, and more, along with food and beverages and ample legroom, in addition to an advanced air-conditioning system, to meet the needs of all. There will also be different seating segments, including first-class, business-class, and economy.
Etihad Rail has recently signed three MoUs with Spain's national railway operator Renfe, and the British companies High Speed 1 and GB Railfreight, to enhance cooperation and the exchange of knowledge, expertise, and the best practices in freight and passenger rail services and rail operations. This took place during Middle East Rail 2022, which was hosted by the Etihad rail in May.
In February, Etihad Rail signed an agreement with First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) for financing the railway passenger transport services, with a total value of AED 1.99 billion as part of the UAE National Railways Programme. First Abu Dhabi Bank will be the Certified Lead Arranger for the loan as part of the agreement.
The National Rail Network's route in the final package of Stage Two extends for 145 kilometres, connecting the borders of Dubai and Sharjah, going through Fujairah to Ras Al Khaimah. It comprises 54 bridges and 20 wildlife crossing points. It also has nine tunnels extending 6.9 kilometres through Al Hajar Mountains, including the largest heavy freight railway tunnel in the Arab Gulf which runs for 1.8 kilometres. The route is known for its distinct geographic location, being surrounded by mountains on all sides.
In November 2021, Etihad Rail completed the excavation works for all rail tunnels in this route, two months ahead of schedule and in compliance with the highest safety and sustainability standards. This was achieved using the latest tunnelling equipment and the best modern technology, adding a notch to the project's records in terms of safety.
The National Railway Network supports the growth of the national economy with sustainable transportation system, which provides safety and efficiency. The network's locomotives incorporate the latest technology for reducing emissions, where carbon emissions will be reduced by 70-80% compared to the amount emitted by trucks, with one single train journey replacing around 300 trucks on the road.
Etihad Rail employs the best global practices, and constantly conducts environmental impact assessments (EIAs) to limit the impact of the UAE National Rail Network on the environment during planning, construction, and operations.