The local Centre of Excellence for Applied Research and Training (CERT) and France’s Thales have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to establish a rail academy in the UAE.

The rail academy will be established to aid the development of professional and academic training programmes to support the UAE’s main rail and urban transport developments. The partnership is in line with the UAE government’s efforts to develop local human capital.

The MoU is the second vocational partnership between CERT and Thales, with the companies having set up the joint-venture CERT Thales Institute in 1999 to provide technical training for the UAE defence sector. CERT, the research and training arm of the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT), was created in 1996 to boost the UAE’s education and training sectors.

The UAE has a number of further major rail projects planned in the coming years, with the $11bn Etihad Rail project forming the central part of the country’s rail programme.

Construction work for phase 1, linking gasfields of Habshan and Ruwais port, is currently under execution. The first phase, worth $898m, is being developed by a consortium led by Italy’s Saipem. The other members of the consortium include Tecnimont, also Italian, and the UAE’s Dodsal Engineering and Construction.