Etihad Rail has completed the next phase of the AED 1.2 billion ($326.7 million) national railway network project, connecting Khalifa Port with the mainland by building the Emirates' first one-kilometre railway marine bridge. It will increase the flow of goods into the region and reduce transport and trade costs.
Etihad Rail has faced many challenges in building the bridge. Khuloud Al Mazrouei, deputy project manager, said:
The biggest challenges are climate and environmental ones, caused by the area's geography. These include tides, changes in the speed and direction of wind and high temperatures and humidity levels.
The Etihad Rail network will stretch 1,200 km across the UAE, from the border with Saudi Arabia to Fujairah. It will connect the UAE's main centres of trade, industry, manufacturing, logistics and population.
Etihad Rail said in May that 75% of the network had already been built. The construction has been divided into two phases, the second of which includes four packages.
The first phase, a freight link between the gas fields Shah and Habshan and Ruwais, was opened in 2016. The second phase connects Ghuwaifat in the west with Fujairah in the east.
The new network will reduce travel time by 30-40%. The journey from Abu Dhabi to Dubai and from Dubai to Fujairah will take 50 minutes, from Abu Dhabi to Al Ruwais 70 minutes and from Abu Dhabi to Fujairah 100 minutes.
The launch date for the passenger line and the exact route of this service has not yet been announced, but plans for the first passenger station in Fujairah have already been submitted.
Passenger trains will travel at speeds of up to 200 km per hour and will connect 11 cities and districts. Each will be able to carry around 400 people.