Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Giant UAE Rail Freight And Public Transport Scheme Proceeds Apace

First Export Cargo Shipments Planned
Shipping News Feature

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – Richard Bowker CBE, who moved to Abu Dhabi last year to take control of the newly formed Union Railway Company, had a chequered, and largely successful career in the UK working for Virgin boss Richard Branson, advisor to Tony Blair and head of the Strategic Rail Authority for three years; his latest challenge however is no doubt his greatest, bringing home a rail network for freight and high speed passenger traffic which will cover the entire region.

Yesterday Mr Bowker announced his intention to see phase one of the ambitious 1500 kilometre, $11 billion (Dh40.4bn) railway network will be on target to commence shipping freight early in 2013. The initial shipments will be sulphur from Habshan to Ruwais for export abroad and further development will see all seven Emirates, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm al-Quwain, Ras al-Khaimah and Fujairah, all of whom are investing billions of dollars, linked by the new infrastructure.

The new railway will link Ghweifat on the Western tip of Saudi Arabia to Al Ain on the Omani border to the East plus the Liwa Oasis area on the Abu Dhabi/Saudi border in the South to the Northern towns of Port Saqr and Khor Fakkan. The full development will take 7 to 8 years and will see freight wagons carrying cargo at speeds of up to 120kph whilst parallel passenger services will offer a high speed option with maximum speeds of around 200kph.

The whole scheme will no doubt be highlighted at the forthcoming GulfRail 2012 conference and exhibition being held in Dubai in 18 months time but for now all geotechnical, topographic, aerial and ground surveys for the Shah to Ruwais section are complete and tenders for the balance of the works are under consideration.

With Union Railway planning to become involved in all aspects of the project including sourcing, leasing out and maintaining rolling stock Mr Bowker’s experience and contacts, he helped source trains for both the London Underground PFI contract and Virgin’s Pendolino’s, should come in useful.

Picture courtesy of Union Railway Company