Deutsche Bahn and Etihad Rail : First train nearly ready to roll
A joint venture between Deutsche Bahn and Etihad Rail for the provision of railfreight services on the Arabian Peninsula is set to commence operations in October. A contract to establish an undertaking called Etihad Rail DB Operations was signed recently in Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates).
Etihad Rail, the railway development and operating company of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has chosen the German service provider DB Schenker Rail as its partner for a new joint venture. The Emirati rail service provider will hold a majority share of the start-up capital in the new enterprise, called Etihad Rail DB Operations.
The German partner, DB Schenker Rail, has assumed responsibility for the recruitment of more than 200 employees who will be required on long-term contracts during the gradual development of rail operations and for the maintenance of the rolling stock. The search is on for specialists from all of the various railway professions – from signalling technicians, through railcar supervisors and engineers to security managers. As proficiency in English is one of the basic requirements of obtaining employment, the recruitment task is being coordinated by DB Schenker Rail UK. The first freight trains are expected to roll on the tracks in October.
European technical standards
A new rail network for passenger and freight traffic is currently being created across all of the UAE’s seven emirates (Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm al-Quwain). In the final stage – and after a total investment of more than EUR 80 billion – the emirates’ economic centres and ports will be connected by a 1,200 km rail network that is being built and equipped to European technical standards.
The region has been served by DB Schenker’s logisticians for more than half a century and DB International experts have been present in the local and regional market for decades. They have been working for Etihad Rail for many years. «Now we can contribute more of our railfreight transport expertise to the region. We’re delighted to be chosen for this important project,» said Alexander Hedderich, CEO of DB Schenker Rail, who, like HE Mattar Mohammed Al Tayer, deputy chairman of Etihad Rail, set his signature on the contract to establish the new railway company.
Etihad Rail was founded four years ago and mandated to develop, build and operate a railway network in the UAE. This network will form an essential part of the Gulf Cooperation Council’s transport plans and connect the UAE to Saudi Arabia in the west (via Ghweifat, Saudi Arabia) as well as to Oman in the east via Al Ain (UAE). A further phase of development will provide a rail link between Mussafah (Abu Dhabi) and the Emirati Persian Gulf ports of Khalifa and Jebel Ali, and extend to the Saudi Arabian and Omani borders. Construction work for the connection to the northern emirates is already in progress.
The rail network’s first client will be the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, which will use the tracks to haul sulphur granulate. Discussions are currently being held with other potential customers of the Etihad Rail network. These potential users are from the steel, energy and building sectors.