Etihad Rail transported 5.24 million tonnes of granulated sulphur in the first 18 months of operation from sources at Shah and Habshan to its point of export at Ruwais in Abu Dhabi. This volume, the company said, would have required 330,000 truck trips.

Two trains, each carrying 11,000 tonnes of granulated sulphur, depart daily from Shah and Habshan and travel at a top speed of 120 kilometres an hour on the 264km track, which comprises the first phase of the Etihad Rail.

The phase utilises locomotives from the US’ Electro-Motive Diesel, while the wagons are supplied by China’s CSR Corporation. Two other phases are planned to complete the 1,200km Etihad Rail network, although the tender for the second phase was suspended in January.

Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) is the offtaker for the granulated sulphur, which is being exported via the Mirfa depot in Ruwais.

The Mirfa depot is one of seven buildings owned by Etihad Rail, which were earlier awarded 2-pearl ratings by Estidama, Abu Dhabi’s sustainability compliance agency, which is attached to the Urban Planning Council (UPC). The 2-pearl rating was earned due to the energy- and water-saving features of these buildings.

“Sustainability is… a key consideration at every stage of Etihad Rail’s development; the goal of our project is becoming a regional leader in sustainable infrastructure and transport design, construction and operations,” Faris Saif al-Mazrouei, Etihad Rail’s CEO, said in March.

The suspension of the tender for Etihad Rail’s second phase and the reduction of its employee headcount by 30 per cent in January are being seen as part of widespread cost-cutting measures in Abu Dhabi, as a result of lower oil revenues.