Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, has officially opened the UAE's freight train network.
He announced the launch of the freight network at the main control and maintenance centre in Abu Dhabi’s Al Fayah region on Thursday, news agency Wam reported.
The network consists of a fleet of 38 locomotives and more than 1,000 wagons capable of transporting all types of goods.
It will connect four major ports and seven logistics centres across the country.
The network also includes a number of charging stations located in Ruwais, the Industrial City of Abu Dhabi, Khalifa Port, Dubai Industrial City, Jebel Ali Port, Al Ghail and Fujairah Port.
These locations are a major hub for local and regional distribution and logistics services, as they include customs warehouses and on-site cargo inspection services.
“We are proud of the performance of our sons and daughters who have worked hard over the years to build an ambitious strategic project that will propel our national economy to greater heights,” Sheikh Mohammed said.
“Connecting the Emirates via a national railway network strengthens our capabilities and competitiveness, and consolidates our unity.”
The project, one of the largest infrastructure programmes in the region, aims to connect all seven emirates through a main rail network.
The network, which runs across different geographical terrains, includes 593 bridges and crossings, and nine tunnels.
The freight trains have a capacity of transporting 60 million tonnes of goods per year and can run up to 120kph.
Sheikh Mohammed said that the national railway network is a vital milestone in the UAE’s development journey and a groundbreaking initiative that strengthens the country’s preparations for the future.
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 bin Mohamed, member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and chairman of Etihad Rail, 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.
“The completion of the network according to the schedule and the approved budget would not have been possible without the cohesion of our talented Emiratis.”
The main line of the network extends from Ghuweifat on the border of Saudi Arabia, to Fujairah, forming an essential part of the global supply network.
Stage one of the network has been fully operational since January 2016 and stage two of the project started in early 2020.
The project also supports the UAE’s sustainable development goals and contributes to achieving the net zero by 2050 by reducing carbon emissions on the roads by 21 per cent and reducing road transport emissions per capita by 40 per cent by 2050.
The cargo wagons can carry all types of goods, including petrochemicals, raw steel, limestone, cement, building materials, industrial and domestic waste, aluminium, food commodities and general cargo.
The inauguration ceremony was attended by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai; Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior; Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed, member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council; Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed, chairman of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, chairman of Dubai Airports and chairman and chief executive of Emirates Airline and Group; Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, UAE Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence, and a number of ministers and senior officials.