Etihad Rail: Major transport event to draw thousands of visitors to Abu Dhabi

The Middle East Rail conference is being hosted by UAE's national rail operator

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Related: First glimpse of Etihad Rail's new 600-metre bridge

The future of railways in the Middle East will be mapped out at a major conference that starts in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.

Middle East Rail is expected to draw 6,000 visitors, more than 200 speakers and 250 exhibitors.

Etihad Rail, the developer and operator of the UAE's national railway network, is hosting the two-day event with pressing topics up for discussion including large developments in the Emirates over the past decade.

Anticipation has been building in the UAE as Etihad Rail releases more information about the eagerly awaited passenger service that will take people from Abu Dhabi to Fujairah in about an hour.

Etihad Rail in January released the first images of what the passenger trains will look like when the service is launched.

The silver and grey carriages emblazoned with the red Etihad Rail logo will travel at speeds of up to 200kph and can carry about 400 people, linking 11 cities and areas across the UAE, from Al Sila in the west to Fujairah in the north.

The addition of the passenger rail service was announced in December and marked a crucial moment for Etihad Rail since its establishment in 2009.

A freight service linking the gasfields at Shah and Habshan to Ruwais opened in 2016.

Also up for discussion at Middle East Rail will be passenger experience, the need for exciting infrastructure design and the switch to digital signalling.

It also features a showcase of latest train technology, more than 100 presentations, panels and interviews, as well as workshops.

"As a leading event in the railway sector, Middle East Rail 2022 will play a significant role in creating new opportunities for developing the industry," said Mohamed Al Mansouri, Undersecretary for Infrastructure and Transport Affairs at the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure.

"Hosting Middle East Rail 2022 consolidates the UAE’s excellence in the transport infrastructure and logistics industries, in order to achieve sustainable development.”

Omar Al Sebeyi, executive director of the commercial sector at Etihad Rail, said the conference was important for the future of rail in the region.

“At Etihad Rail, we ensure integrating cutting-edge technologies and following the best practices in the development of the UAE national rail network, to support the country’s economic growth," he said.

"We look forward to convening with industry leaders and experts at Middle East Rail to shape the future of the rail industry in the region.”

Organisers said it made sense to hold Middle East Rail, now in its 16th year, in Abu Dhabi, as travel corridors reopen after the Covid-19 pandemic.

Event director Jamie Hosie said: "Abu Dhabi plays an important role in the Middle East’s transport industry — as a central point of business it is the perfect place to stage this crucial gathering of transport titans."

Middle East Rail takes place at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre from May 17 to 18

Updated: May 12, 2022, 8:01 AM