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A 1·99bn dirham agreement for the financing of future passenger rail services has been signed by Etihad Rail and First Abu Dhabi Bank, which will be the certified lead arranger for the loan.
Freight services have been operating on the 264 km first phase of the planned 1 200 km national rail network since 2016, and construction of the second phase is underway to connect Ghuweifat on the border with Saudi Arabia to Fujairah with links to the ports at Mussafah, Khalifa and Jebel Ali.
The introduction of passenger services on the network is one of three ‘strategic projects’ included in the 50bn dirham UAE Railways Programme launched in December 2021. The others are the development of freight services on the current and future lines, and the integrated development of ‘smart transport technology and systems’ including light rail lines and planning, booking and integrated logistics systems.
The passenger services are intended to strengthen connectivity within the UAE by linking 11 locations from Al Sila to Fujairah. Trains would operate at up to 200 km/h, and offer a capacity of around 400 passengers. Ridership is predicted to reach more than 36·5 million passengers/year by 2030.
‘Through this agreement, we will move full steam ahead with our mission to provide passenger railway services, which will bolster public transport system in the UAE and the wider region’, said Etihad Rail CEO Shadi Malak when the agreement was signed on February 24. ‘Etihad Rail is an essential component of the Gulf Co-operation Council rail network, and this agreement brings us one step closer towards realising our strategic goals of strengthening the UAE’s reputation as a regional and global transport hub.’
This article first appeared on www.railwaygazette.com
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