Etihad Rail Project Update

The network is being developed and implemented in two main stages:

Status:  Commercial activity for Etihad Rail commenced in January 2016 after final safety authorisations were granted by the Federal Transport Authority. To date, Etihad Rail has transported more than 30 million tonnes of granulated sulphur (the equivalent of around 1.8 million truck trips), for the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), without a Lost Time Incident and with Zero Loss Time Injuries.

One single train journey removes approximately 300 trucks from the road, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 70%-80% compared to the amount emitted by trucks required to transport the same tonnage.

Location:  Stage One of the rail network links the gas fields at Shah and Habshan to the port of Ruwais where granulated sulphur is processed for export.

Capacity:  Stage One has the capacity to transport 22,000 tonnes of granulated sulphur daily (7.2 million tonnes yearly).

Length (km): 264 km

Locomotives:  Stage One utilises seven state-of-the-art locomotives from U.S.-based Electro-Motive Diesel, equipped with the ETCS Level 2 in-cab European signalling system and international standard safety features.

ETCS (European Train Control System) Level 2 is a Global System for Mobile Communications – Railway radio-based system which displays signalling and movement authority directly to the cab. The train is continuously sending data to the Radio Block Centre (RBC) to report its exact position and direction. Trains refine their position with sensors such as accelerometers, odometers, GMS-R or radar, together with speed information and route data.

The Etihad Rail network is of standard gauge, mainly double track, designed for an integrated transport network and mixed-use traffic to enable trans-national interoperability.

Wagons:  Stage One is operating with up to 110 wagons per run, fully equipped with extended safety features including ECP brakes and derailment protection. Weighing 30 tonnes each unloaded and 130 tonnes loaded, the covered hopper wagons feature top hatch covers for loading and “kwik drop” bottom doors for unloading.

Location:  Stage Two will extend 605 kilometres from Ghuweifat on the border with Saudi Arabia to Fujairah on the east coast, to be followed by future route additions. The network will connect the Emirates via Abu Dhabi, KIZAD, Khalifa Port, Jebel Ali Port, Dubai, Sharjah, Ras al-Khaimah and Fujairah on the East Coast, linking with the existing line at Ruwais, effectively uniting the major industrial ports and trading centres of the country.

Stage Two is being constructed in a series of packages in a strategy developed to ensure competitive tenders by aligning mainline civil and track packages geographically within each emirate. O&M and Freight Facilities are packaged separately to ensure that the right contractors tender for their preferred packages.


  • Contracts for Package A of Stage Two have been awarded for Design and Build, civil engineering and track works to a joint venture between the China State Construction Engineering Corporation and South Korea’s SK Engineering and Construction. The contracts include all Design and Build, civil and track works of the initial 139-kilometer stretch of the UAE rail network connecting Ruwais with Ghuweifat on the UAE border with Saudi Arabia.
  • Packages B & C linking Khalifa Port, Khalifa Industrial City (Kizad), and Jebel Ali Port have been awarded to the China Railway Construction Corporation Ltd. and Ghantoot Transport & General Contracting Company and include all aspects of the Design and Build, civil engineering, track works and rail infrastructure. Routes:
    o Package B: Tarif to Saih Shuaib for 216km.
    o Package C: Jebel Ali to Sharjah for 94km.
  •  Contracts for Package D connecting Dubai with Fujairah have been awarded to a joint venture of the China Railway Construction Corporation, CRCC, and National Projects and Construction, NPC. Package D will run from Sharjah to Fujairah for 132Km, providing connectivity to the Port of Fujairah in continuation of Stage Two Package C from the Dubai/Sharjah Border. This route will pass through the Emirates of Sharjah, Fujairah and Ras al-Khaimah. The majority of the alignment will pass through the Hajar Mountains.

Work on the packages will include all necessary civil engineering, drilling, bridges, viaducts, tunnels, main-line and secondary stations, animal crossings, marshalling yards, goods yards, branch lines, spurs, sidings and ancillary constructions throughout the route alignments.
Etihad Rail DB has been designated as ‘Shadow Operator’ on Stage Two’s development.
MoUs and Agreements have been signed with a variety of authorities. These include: The General Administration of Abu Dhabi Customs, Zonescorp, KIZAD and Abu Dhabi Ports, Abu Dhabi Department of Urban Planning and Municipalities and other relevant authorities throughout the Emirates.

Locomotives:  A contract for the supply of locomotives for the UAE’s nationwide rail network has been awarded to Progress Rail Locomotive Inc., expanding the company’s fleet to 45 locomotives. The locomotives feature powerful motors and will be supported by advanced emission reduction technology, reducing carbon emissions by 70-80%. The locomotives are designed to haul a 100-wagon train, which can replace 5,600 on-road truck trips per day. All locomotives for Stage Two will be equipped with the same ETCS level 2 in-cab European signalling system and international standard safety features as Stage One.

When complete, the volume of goods transported across the network will increase from seven million tonnes per year on Stage One to more than fifty million tonnes.