Etihad Rail map: what does the route look like and where does it go?

The 1,200km line will run from the UAE’s border with Saudi Arabia to Fujairah, with plans to extend to Oman

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The railway line between Abu Dhabi and Dubai was linked in March and connected to Ras Al Khaimah and Sharjah in October.

Between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the line stretches for 256 kilometres and includes 29 bridges, 60 crossings and 137 drainage channels.

In Sharjah, it runs for 45km, while the Ras Al Khaimah line extends over 5.7km and connects the emirate to the project's main tracks.

The main Etihad Rail network will run for 1,200km across the UAE, from the border of Saudi Arabia to Fujairah.

It has also been announced that the line will be extended into Oman. The agreement to build the Omani portion of the rail network was signed on September 29 during the President Sheikh Mohamed's state visit to Oman.

The line will carry freight and passengers to connect Abu Dhabi with Sohar in the north of Muscat.

Meanwhile, while launch dates for the UAE passenger line and the exact route for this service have not yet been announced, plans to build the first passenger station in Fujairah have been unveiled.

How will the passenger service transform UAE public transport?

The passenger trains will travel at speeds of up to 200kph, linking 11 cities and areas. Each train will carry about 400 people.

Carriages will be equipped with amenities such as Wi-Fi, entertainment systems, charging points and food and beverages.

There will also be different seating areas, including first class, business class and economy.

Customers can expect a travel time of 50 minutes between Abu Dhabi and Dubai and about 100 minutes from Abu Dhabi to Fujairah, cutting commutes significantly.

Once operational, the service is expected to carry more than 36 million people annually by 2030.

The railway, as the maps show, will link the principal centres of trade, industry, manufacturing, production, logistics, population and all the major import and export points of the UAE, while forming an integral part of the GCC railway network. ‍

Additions or changes to the route can be expected, but Etihad Rail said 70 per cent of the network had now been built.

Stage one — a freight service linking the gasfields at Shah and Habshan to Ruwais — opened in 2016. Each day, it carries up to 22,000 tonnes of granulated sulphur from Habshan and Shah to Ruwais for Abu Dhabi National Oil Company.

Stage two joins Ghuwaifat in the west to Fujairah on the east. The maps shows the stages of construction, or packages, as they have been called.

News that the line between Abu Dhabi and Dubai had been linked was announced by Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, and Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed, Member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and Chairman of Etihad Rail.

Striking image highlights progress

Etihad Rail published an aerial photograph in August to show the progress of the line on the UAE's east coast.

The image, posted to its social media channels, shows the railway cutting through Fujairah's Hajar Mountains and headed for the coast.

“Our National Railway network traverses through the Hajar mountains and extends for 145km, connecting the borders of Sharjah and going through Fujairah all the way to Ras Al Khaimah, providing a safe and efficient means of transportation across the unique topography created by the scenic mountains into the other emirates,” said Etihad Rail in a message accompanying the picture.

Freight trains

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, officially opened the UAE's freight train network and said that the national railway network is a vital milestone in the country’s development journey and a groundbreaking initiative that strengthens the country’s preparations for the future.

Across the network, trains will traverse 593 bridges and nine tunnels that will make up a distance of 6.5km when complete.

The logistics operation will be carried out using 38 modern freight trains with a capacity of 60 million tonnes annually, and more than 1,000 multi-purpose vehicles.

Each goods locomotive operates with 4,500 horsepower, equivalent to 3,400 kilowatts.

With the capacity to move at up to 120 kilometres per hour, these will be among the most powerful freight train engines in the Middle East, specially designed to withstand the landscape, climate, temperatures and humidity of the GCC region.

The trains will connect four major ports and include seven logistics centres across the country.

Charging stations will serve the network at Ruwais, Industrial City of Abu Dhabi (ICAD), Khalifa Port, Dubai Industrial City, Jebel Ali Port, Al Ghail and Fujairah Port, as each is a major hub for local and regional distribution and logistics services, with customs warehouses and on-site cargo inspection services.

The UAE National Railway Network will provide solutions for investors and customers, due to its ability to transport all types of goods, including petrochemicals, raw steel and limestone.

Benefits of rail

The project is expected to contribute Dh200 billion to the national economy by 2050, save Dh8 billion in road maintenance costs and provide Dh23 billion in tourism revenue.

Sheikh Theyab said the project will accelerate the country’s economic development.

“Emirati talent with the support of the UAE leadership, has turned the dream of our founding fathers into reality,” he said.

“Thanks to them, we won the bet, and we succeeded in launching a railway network with international specifications that extends to about 900km across the Emirates."

This is a version of an article that was first published in March, 2022.

Etihad Rail’s route from Abu Dhabi to Dubai — in pictures

Updated: February 24, 2023, 9:25 AM