Etihad Rail receives first batch of new and advanced rolling stock

New fleet to include 45 heavy transport locomotives – six times its current fleet

Etihad Rail has achieved a new milestone in the development of the National Rail Network, with the arrival of the first batches of the company’s new and advanced rolling stock fleet.

The locomotives and wagons reached the UAE via Zayed and Al Musaffah Ports and will operate across the whole network upon its completion. The achievement comes in line with Etihad Rail’s efforts to achieve the objectives of the UAE Railways Programme, the largest land transport system of its kind in the UAE, which was launched as part of the Projects of the 50, the largest set of national strategic projects that seek to set up a new phase of development across UAE for the next fifty years, a statement said.

The UAE Railways Programme aims to set a new roadmap for transporting goods and passengers via train across the country, which will contribute to developing a sustainable land transport system that connects the cities of the UAE via railways.

In June 2022, Etihad Rail signed a $326.7mn deal for passenger trains with CAF.

Etihad Rail said it would increase its fleet of heavy freight locomotives to 45 heavy transport locomotives, which is equivalent to six times of its current fleet. Progress Rail will handle the manufacturing and supply of the new EMD SD70 electro-motive diesel locomotives.

Furthermore, the company increased the size of its wagons, with the new fleet aiming to house more than 1,000 multi-purpose wagons – three times its current fleet. China’s CRRC Group will handle the manufacturing and supply of the new fleet of wagons, the statement said.

Mohammed Al Marzouqi, Executive Director of Rail Relations Sector at Etihad Rail said: “The arrival of the new fleet of locomotives and wagons to the UAE on schedule reflects the level of the achievements that the Etihad Rail project is realising in the development of the UAE National Railway Network. Upon completion and becoming fully operational, the network will contribute to revitalising and bolstering economic growth in the UAE, particularly during the next 50 years, by providing reliable and safe freight services with high efficiency.

“The network will also contribute to the region’s economic growth upon its connection with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) network, which will consolidate the UAE’s position as a regional and global centre for shipping and logistics services. This achievement comes as part of the company’s preparations to operate the network according to the highest global standards in the future.”

Etihad Rail’s new fleet was designed specifically to withstand regional climate conditions, and the high temperatures and humidity levels in the GCC region, ensuring the highest levels of performance, efficiency, and sustainability. In August, Liebherr said it had successfully tested air conditioning unit destined for use in Etihad Rail trains.

The fleet will increase the capacity of the UAE National Rail Network to more than 60m tonnes of goods per year. Etihad Rail’s new fleet will also contribute towards reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 70%-80%.

“We made sure that the company’s new fleet is among the most modern in the region and the world, providing the highest safety criteria in terms of design, ensuring the best specifications for sustainability and environmental protection, and integrating the latest technologies for train operation and monitoring. We also ensured that the fleet suits the local geography and climate in the UAE and the region and meets current and future needs of Etihad Rail’s clients, including industrial companies, shipping companies, building materials suppliers, quarriers, and more,” Al Marzouqi added.

Each of the fleet’s new EMD SD70 locomotives packs 4,600hp, which is said to make them amongst the most powerful engines in the Middle East. The locomotives are equipped with the latest filtering innovations such as the pulse sand filtering system, which ensures that the train operates at high effectiveness and efficiency when passing through desert regions. They also incorporate and comply the latest technologies and standards for reducing emissions.

The locomotives are also equipped with advanced on-board technologies and systems like the European Train Control System (ETCS) Level 2, the most advanced signalling system of its kind, in order to ensure safety, security, and reliability, in addition to efficiency and sustainability. Each locomotive can pull 100 wagons, which is equivalent to the capacity of 300 trucks. The volume of goods transported by these trains is equivalent to 5,600 daily truck trips.

“Our diesel-electric EMD SD70 locomotives meet the highest global standards,” commented Marty Haycraft, Progress Rail President and Chief Executive Officer. “Etihad Rail’s new fleet is a great example of what our customers have come to expect from our advanced locomotives, which are designed to perform in extreme conditions.”

The wagons are equipped with the latest braking, signalling, control, communication, and safety systems. The variety of wagons will enable a higher flexibility and capability in transporting goods of various sizes, including petrochemicals, raw steel and its products, limestone, cement, building materials, industrial and household waste, aluminum, food, and assorted goods. This helps reduce transportation costs by 30% and increase logistic efficiency, which drives economic success for clients and users of the network. In addition, railway transport will reduce road congestion caused by trucks, which are currently the only shipping method.

The new locomotives and wagons will be stored at Etihad Rail’s facilities in Al Mirfa until the completion of construction works on the UAE National Railway Network. The development of the network is proceeding at a rapid pace and marking a number of achievements, the most recent being finishing 75% of Stage Two of the project within 28 months.

Ben Quak, General Manager of CRRC UAE concluded: CRRC is excited to be a partner in Stage Two of the UAE National Rail Network, contributing to the growth of Etihad Rail, the UAE, and the region by supporting the development of the rail industry. We are pleased to witness the successful delivery of the multi-function wagons, which will contribute to reducing carbon emissions and provide safe, sustainable, and efficient services.”

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