The freight trains will connect 4 major ports. There will be 7 logistics centres across the country to service the trains and related businesses.
The UAE National Railway Network will carry all types of freight, including petrochemicals, raw steel, limestone, cement, construction materials, industrial and household waste, aluminium, food and general cargo.
The region's freight train fleet includes 38 locomotives with a capacity of 60 million tonnes of goods per year and more than 1,000 multi-purpose wagons.
Each freight locomotive has 4,500 horsepower, or 3,400 kilowatts. This is one of the most powerful freight train engines in the Middle East.
Freight trains will travel at speeds of up to 120 km/h. It has a standard track width of 1,435 metres and operates under the European ETCS Level 2 signalling system. It has been specially designed to withstand the geography, climatic conditions, high temperatures and humidity of the GCC region to ensure high levels of performance, efficiency and sustainability.
Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and Chairman of Etihad Rail said: “Emirati talents, with the support of the UAE leadership, have turned the dream of our founding fathers into reality. Thanks to them we won the bet, and we succeeded in launching a railway network with international specifications that extends to about 900 kilometres across the Emirates. We announce the inauguration operation of the freight trains throughout the UAE with a fleet of 38 locomotives and more than 1,000 wagons capable of transporting all types of goods.”
The main line of the UAE National Rail Network extends from Ghuweifat, on the border with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, to Fujairah.
The first phase of the network has been fully operational since January 2016, with the second phase of the project starting in early 2020.
According to the statement, the UAE National Railway Network will contribute AED 200 billion to the national economy and save AED 8 billion in road maintenance costs. The tourism benefits of the network are estimated at AED 23 billion.
The project has contributed to supporting local industry through the contracting of 215 companies and local entities, and 70% of the construction materials used in the project are produced by local industry.
The project also supports the UAE's Sustainable Development Goals and contributes to the UAE's Net Zero by 2050 by reducing carbon emissions from the road transport sector by 21% and reducing per capita road transport emissions by 40% by 2050.
11 contractors, 25 consultants and 28,000 specialists worked on the project. It required 133 million hours of work and 40,000 permits from 180 government agencies.
The UAE National Rail Network traverses a variety of geographical terrains, within a large-scale engineering plan that includes the construction of 593 bridges and crossings of all types, and 9 tunnels with a length of 6.5 km. A total of 120 million cubic metres of excavation work has been carried out to ensure the highest level of traffic flow under the rail network's tracks.