Etihad Rail and Uber sign initial pact to boost passenger transport options

Uber-dedicated pick-up and drop-off area could be created within stations

An artist's impression of the UAE’s new passenger rail service. Photo: Etihad Rail
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Etihad Rail, the developer and operator of the UAE National Rail Network, and ride-hailing app Uber have signed an initial agreement to collaborate on expanding passenger transport options in the country and share mobility data to better serve the market.

As part of the pact signed during the Middle East Rail event last week, they will seek to enhance first and last mile initiatives and expand services across the UAE, Uber said on Monday.

They will also “explore opportunities to integrate e-hailing services and assess the possibility of creating an Uber dedicated pick-up and drop-off area for passengers within stations to enable passengers to unify their journey planning”, the company said.

The pact aims to support Etihad Rail’s efforts to provide “accessible and integrated transportation across the UAE, including in areas with limited accessibility”, said Nicolas Petrovic, Etihad Rail Mobility chief executive.

“Our goal is to improve the living standards and welfare of the residents and facilitate commuting among all areas of the country quickly, efficiently, comfortably and affordably,” said Mr Petrovic.

Etihad Rail offers glimpse of passenger travel experience

Etihad Rail offers glimpse of passenger travel experience
Etihad Rail offers glimpse of passenger travel experience

Etihad Rail, which formally launched freight services in February, is set to begin passenger operations soon — although no date has been announced as yet.

The passenger trains will travel at speeds up to 200kph and carry about 400 people between 11 cities and areas across the UAE from Al Sila in the west to Fujairah in the north.

Passengers will be able to travel from Abu Dhabi to Dubai in 50 minutes, Dubai to Fujairah in 50 minutes, and Abu Dhabi to Fujairah in 100 minutes.

Carriages will be equipped with Wi-Fi, entertainment systems and charging points, catering to all people in the UAE, from families to workers and tourists, according to officials.

The railway will be integrated with existing public transport such as buses and the metro. There are also plans to introduce a unified ticket and journey planning system.

As part of the pact, Etihad Rail and Uber will collaborate to understand passenger activity and movement between cities in the UAE.

Travel patterns between emirates, such as trip length and distances, will be studied and travel hot spots between cities in the UAE, including bus and metro stations, and the distribution of trips from these transportation hubs analysed, said Uber.

Nicolas Petrovic, left, Etihad Rail Mobility chief executive and Frans Hiemstra, Uber's director and regional general manager of the Middle East and Africa. Photo: Uber

“Public transit is the backbone of any city and is indispensable for moving more people around efficiently, preventing congestion and limiting pollution,” Frans Hiemstra, director and regional general manager, Uber Middle East and Africa, said.

“But the way people use public transport is changing, and technology has a big role to play in that to help us solve complex transport challenges.”

Etihad Rail signed several agreements during Middle East Rail, including a pact with drone cargo specialist SkyGo and one with Italian luxury hospitality company Arsenale for a luxury rail service.

A launch date was not revealed for the luxury service, which has been called a “rail cruise”, but it is expected to cross the UAE from Fujairah to the Liwa desert in Abu Dhabi. The train will consist of 15 luxury carriages being built in Puglia and Sicily, Arsenale said.

Etihad Rail also signed a 20-year partnership agreement with DHL Global Forwarding to set up a joint venture as part of the country's efforts to strengthen its freight network.

The joint venture will enable DHL to use Etihad Rail’s network to conduct operations within the UAE.

Updated: May 22, 2023, 9:42 AM

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