The first commercial freight train journeys in the Western Region moved a step closer yesterday when Etihad Rail, the developer and operator of the UAE’s national railway network, handed over control of the network’s control centre in Mirfa to the operator Etihad Rail DB.
Etihad Rail DB, the joint venture company formed between Etihad Rail and the German DB Schenker in March last year, will manage the operation and maintenance of the first phase of the UAE’s national railway network from the control centre.
Construction of the 264-kilometre Etihad Rail first phase, which will transport more than seven million tonnes of granulated sulphur a year, was completed at the start of the year and trains are currently running on a trial basis.
Eventually the US$11 billion network is expected to span 1,200km, connecting all of the emirates and connecting it to Saudi Arabia and Oman.
“The control centre is at the core of the railway network,” said Faris Saif Al Mazrouei, the Etihad Rail chief executive. “The qualified staff members working in the control centre are responsible for the overall control and command of the system including all train movements, and this move is an important step forward for the project.“
A delayed 628km second phase linking Dubai and Abu Dhabi is expected to be awarded over the coming months after it was first tendered in July 2012.
Etihad Rail is part of ambitious plans to open a 2,177km long GCC-wide rail network which would link all six GCC states by rail for the first time.
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