Etihad Rail unveils new high-tech trains able to thrive in UAE climate

Advanced fleet of locomotives and wagons will be driving force for the country's vast freight network

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The UAE's national railway megaproject is moving full steam ahead after receiving delivery of a new batch of advanced freight trains.

Etihad Rail, the operator of the network, said the arrival of the locomotives and wagons for its freight network marked a major milestone for the initiative.

The rolling stock was transported by way of Zayed and Al Musaffah Ports.

The initial fleet, which will run across the vast rail network, was unveiled at an event held by Etihad Rail at Al Mirfa City in the Al Dhafra region in Abu Dhabi emirate.

Etihad Rail now has 45 locomotives and 1,000 wagons, it said. Each locomotive is able to pull 100 wagons, which is equivalent to the capacity of 300 lorries, it added.

China's CRRC Group will handle the manufacturing and supply of the new fleet of wagons.

“The arrival of the new fleet of locomotives and wagons to the UAE on schedule reflects the level of the achievements that the Etihad Rail project is realising in the development of the UAE National Railway Network," said Mohammed Al Marzouqi, executive director of the Rail Relations Sector at Etihad Rail.

“We made sure that the company’s new fleet is among the most modern in the region and the world, providing the highest safety criteria in terms of design, ensuring the best specifications for sustainability and environmental protection, and integrating the latest technologies for train operation and monitoring."

New trains built for all conditions

Etihad Rail’s new fleet was designed specifically to withstand the Gulf's climate and landscape.

The new diesel-and-electricity-operated locomotives provide 4,600-brake horsepower. They are also equipped with the latest filtering innovations such as the pulse sand filtering system, which ensures that the train operates at high effectiveness and efficiency when passing through desert regions.

The locomotives also use technologies which support efforts to reduce emissions and feature on-board technologies and systems such as the European Train Control System (ETCS) Level 2, a highly advanced signalling system, to bolster safety, reliability and efficiency.

Each locomotive can pull 100 wagons, which is equivalent to the capacity of 300 lorries. The volume of goods transported by these trains is equivalent to 5,600 daily lorry trips.

“Our diesel-electric SD70 locomotives meet the highest global standards,” said Marty Haycraft, president and chief executive of train supplier Progress Rail.

“Etihad Rail's new fleet is a great example of what our customers have come to expect from our advanced locomotives, which are designed to perform in extreme conditions.”

Rail project is right on track

Progress of the UAE's first railway is advancing rapidly, with Etihad Rail saying more than 70 per of the line has been constructed.

In June, it was announced the first passenger station would be built in Fujairah.

The passenger trains will travel at speeds up to 200 kilometres an hour and can carry about 400 people. They will link 11 cities and areas across the UAE, from Al Sila in the west to Fujairah in the north.

UAE rail map. Photo: Etihad Rail

No start date for the passenger service has been made public, but officials have said more than 36 million people will use the service annually by 2030.

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.

The train will also boost the UAE's sustainability efforts. Carbon emissions will be reduced by 70 to 80 per cent, compared with the amount emitted by lorries, with one train journey replacing about 300 lorries on the road.

Updated: August 22, 2022, 6:50 AM
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