posted on 31/10/2007: 1824 views
Construction of a UAE-wide high-speed railway service is to begin early next year, Emirates Today has learned. The first phase of the 800km passenger and cargo network will start operating in 2013 and is expected to ease traffic congestion and reduce the number of trucks on the roads.
And once complete the network will link up with similar projects in neighbouring GCC countries. A senior official close to the project said a consortium of German railway companies had drawn up a feasibility study and finalised the design.
"The project has the full blessing of the UAE's President and a decision has already been made to go ahead,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Details of the cost of the network have yet to be released – but some sources said the figure could reach US$3billion (Dh11bn).
The cargo trains will carry containers, dry bulk, cement, sand, rock, aggregates and petrochemical products. The line will start at the Abu Dhabi-Saudi Arabia border and connect all the emirates.
It is thought the new railway service will encourage some residents to move to affordable accommodation in other emirates far from their workplaces.
In Dubai the route will pass through Jebel Ali – but according to the current plans it will not be linked to the metro's red line, which will stop there. Abdul Redha Al Hassan, Director of Planning at the Roads and Transport Authority's Rail Agency, said that the UAE service would not use the same type of train as the metro.
The network would ultimately be connected to the planned 1,000km long GCC railway network whose construction is scheduled to start in 2010. Ramiz Al Assar, the World Bank's Senior Transport Specialist, said yesterday that the Gulf line would cost US$2.5bn (Dh9.2bn) and would be ready by 2015.
"All GCC member countries are fully committed to the project and there is no going back on this vow despite some hurdles that still need to be overcome,” he said at the Middle East Rail Projects 2007 conference at Dubai's Park Hyatt hotel. A consortium of consultants including Sistra, Canarail and Khatib Al Alami is carrying out a study of the plan and is expected to deliver it by 2009.
The railway will run for 1,000km near the Gulf coast, extending from Muscat in Oman to Kuwait City and passing through the UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia at speeds of up to 180kph. A GCC summit in December will decide whether to extend the line by another 1,000km to include Yemen.
Member countries are in the process of establishing national railway networks that will be integrated into the GCC railway network. (Emirates Today)
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