Commuters call for high-speed rail link

Talk of a commuter railway connecting the greater Abu Dhabi area has been going on for years but residents say that the need for quick transport is stronger than ever.

ABU DHABI // Motorists forced to commute long distances to and from Al Gharbia say train links with urban areas would vastly improve their lives.

There has been talk of a passenger railway connecting to the greater Abu Dhabi area for years, but residents say the need for better transport links are stronger than ever.

The Etihad Rail project is being built, with the first 266 kilometres spanning to Al Gharbia. But the rail will be used only for carrying freight at first.

Mohammed Al Mazroui works for Abu Dhabu Municipality and lives in Al Gharbia.

“There are a lot of people I know, including me, that need this railway,” Mr Al Mazroui said. “This transport would be beneficial to the entire UAE and its people.

“We would be able to live where we want and work where we need without a second thought.”

He said the railway would serve the population of Al Gharbia and boost tourism.

“It’s a desert region,” Mr Al Mazroui said. “There’s a lot of development going on. We don’t exactly have the shopping malls and recreational buildings that Dubai and Abu Dhabi have, but we have a lot of culture and beautiful nature that people should see.”

He said a high-speed railway connecting Al Gharbia with the rest of region would be beneficial.

“My entire life was spent here. I was born and brought up in this land and it’s changing a lot, but now more so than ever,” Mr Al Mazroui said. “We feel like we need a connection to the development in Abu Dhabi and Dubai and that will help our own development.

“I never want to leave this area, this is where my family and home is, but if I want to think about the future. If I want to pursue my dreams, to make something big of myself, then I’d have to leave.”

Others have had to get used to the time-consuming trip to the cities.

Mohammed Fathy, a father of two, owns two flats: one in Sharjah where he spends his weekends; the other in Al Gharbia, where he works.

“If it did happen, I’d be saving a lot, both money and time,” Mr Fathy said. “But I have no other option but to travel if I want to be with my family.”

As manager in charge of granting government building permits, Mr Fathy spends weekends in Sharjah where he spent most of his adult life, but on Sunday mornings he and his wife and children drive 300km to Madinat Zayed.

“Now we have to go through a tiring process waking up at 4am and making the commute. However, installing a railway would make our lives so much better,” he said.

Mr Fathy said a high-speed railway would mean he could sell one of his flats.

“My kids are young, just 4 and 2 years old, but soon enough they will be enrolled in school and their lives will be very difficult if I have to constantly be making this trip with them,” he said.

“Hopefully by that time they will have installed the railway.”

Saeed Murdef has his own reason for wanting a rail link to Al Gharbia – he collects too many traffic fines in his three-hour commute to Dubai.

“Sometimes the cost of my speeding tickets is more than my allowance,” said Mr Murdef, 26, who works at a customer service centre. “I know someone who had to take a loan out just to pay his fines.”

On weekends he drives to Dubai to attend classes for an international business administration degree.

“Of course we’d take the train, we’d take any other way to travel,” Mr Murdef. “We need this railway, it would help us out so much.

“I want to tell Etihad that you guys need to speed up. Help us and alleviate all the expenses and stress we have from all the commuting.”

Etihad Rail was not available for comment.

Published: May 19, 2014 04:00 AM


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