The proposed UAE rail network will be more than 700 kilometres long and will extend from Ruwais through to Fujairah and Ras al-Khaimah, according to the recently completed pre-feasibility study.

An all-German consortium of Dornier Consulting, Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) and De-Consultis now carrying out the second stage of the feasibility study, which will be completed in September 2006 and will investigate technical details such as the routing of the rail lines and whether diesel or electric-powered rolling stock will be used. It will also explore the potential for partnerships between the private and public sectors for financing the project. The study was commissioned by the Abu Dhabi Department of Planning & Economy.

The pre-feasibility study determined that the network will extend northeast from Ruwais through Mussafah, past Abu Dhabi city and up to Jebel Ali and Dubai, where the line will fork in two with one branch leading to Fujairah in the east and the other running through Sharjah, Ajman and Umm al-Qaiwain to Ras al-Khaimah in the north. A second hinterland route running from Ruwais through Al-Ain and up to Dhaid was rejected.

Phase 1 of the project will entail the construction of a freight network that will be designed to carry much of the cargo that currently travels around the federation by road. The network is expected to start operations in phases between 2012 and 2015.

International rail links with Saudi Arabia were also considered. During the course of the pre-feasibility study, two main connection points were identified: one at Hofuf and another further to the west. A rail connection to the kingdom would offer a number of commercial advantages. It would provide direct access to Riyadh from the federation’s ports, and the possibility of eventually connecting up to a GCC-wide rail network that would also link Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman. Although the study will now focus on the inter-emirates network, a connection to Saudi Arabia may be developed in the future by extending the line westward from Ruwais to Gwuheifat (MEED 2:12:05).