China-built UAE national rail network

China co-builds UAE’s first national rail network connecting all seven emirates

The Etihad Rail national rail network, an important transportation artery in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was jointly constructed by a Chinese company, and is set to become a key transportation corridor linking industrial hubs and highly populated areas and ports.

In March 2023 Etihad Rail successfully completed the main 900 kilometer stage of the UAE Etihad Railway Company’s National Rail Network, a massive project spanning a 900 km that Etihad Rail track has now connected all seven emirates in the UAE.

With a total length of 1,200 kilometers, the Etihad Rail project extends across the UAE from the border of Saudi Arabia to the border of Oman and is an important part of the Gulf railway network.

The UAE is a constitutional federation of seven emirates. Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah. Abu Dhabi city is the capital of the UAE.

In January 2024 the UAE was one of the five new countries to become a member of the BRICS+ group. The rail project is a joint construction under the Belt and Road Initiative.

On January 31, 2023, China’s state-owned company CRRC and the Etihad Railway Company of the United Arab Emirates, signed a supply contract for the passenger diesel multiple unit project, including 21 high-speed diesel multiple units with three trains operating at a speed of 200 kilometers per hour and a maximum of 140 trains with 20 supercharged trains.

As China’s first operational railway passenger car project exported to the UAE, this project is another important achievement of the joint construction of the Belt and Road Initiative and the UAE’s next 50-year project development plan.

China’s passenger diesel electric multiple unit (EMU) high speed train will help the UAE to establish trunk railway passenger transport services for the first time.

According to Chinese engineering news service Seetao, the project train is a high-speed, diesel electric EMU

The maximum operating speed is 200 kilometers per hour, and the construction speed is 220 kilometers per hour. It is currently the highest speed internal combustion EMU in the world. The train is built according to the operational needs of the national railway in the UAE, using international advanced standards and technologies to meet the special operating environment of the UAE, such as high temperatures and sandstorms.

The train has first-class seats, second-class seats, and a family area. It is equipped with advanced air-conditioning systems, passenger facilities such as WIFI in the carriages, charging ports, and an intelligent operation and maintenance system to provide comfortable and intelligent passenger service experience.

According to the plan, this batch of internationally advanced modern high-speed diesel EMUs is expected to be put into trial operation on the UAE National Railway in 2025. At that time, it will help the UAE to establish a trunk railway passenger transport service for the first time, providing a faster and more efficient new mode of transportation between key cities in the UAE, and greatly shortening travel time.