Etihad Rail senior executives during the visit
Senior executives at Etihad Rail, the master developer and operator of the UAE’s national railway network, have just returned from a five-day visit to Antwerp, Belgium where they met and shared ideas with key players in the world of transport. The Etihad Rail-led delegation, which included senior executives from Abu Dhabi Ports Company (ADPC) and global port operator DP World, enabled the various UAE parties to meet industry representatives from port authorities, intermodal rail freight companies, shippers, terminal operators, rail organisations and policy makers. The trip coincided with the Antwerp Rail Freight Corridors Conference, a major event focusing on the ever-increasing demand for freight rail in Europe.
Throughout the visit, Etihad Rail, DP World and ADPC were able to further consider their own various business plans and operations and discuss the challenges, opportunities and benefits of cooperation between rail, ports, shipping lines, freight forwarders, terminal operators and freight customers. The trip also allowed them to visit a number of intermodal rail terminals connected to container ports in Antwerp, including DP World-operated Antwerp Gateway.
Talking about the importance of the visit to Belgium, Etihad Rail’s Executive Director – Commercial, Shadi Malak, who led the Etihad Rail delegation, said: “This visit was significant in many ways, as it enabled us to share insights - on all levels of railway development, operation and cooperation - with our shipping partners. The trip was a genuine opportunity for the team at Etihad Rail to benchmark our project with other successful railway and port networks around the globe. Moreover, it reinforced the collaboration and teamwork between ourselves, ADPC and DP World. It is with such coordinated efforts that we are set to build a national network that will operate to the highest technical standards and will contribute significantly to realising the UAE leadership’s vision of economic prosperity and social development through a well planned and integrated infrastructure project.”
The last quarter of this year will see Etihad Rail commence construction on the first phase of the 1,200km UAE railway network – a 266km route in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi. Etihad Rail is committed to building a railway network to the most efficient, safe, and advanced technical standards.
The Etihad Rail network, due to begin carrying its first shipment of freight in 2013, will ensure a more sustainable, safe, modern, efficient and cost-effective transport system for both freight and passengers. The railway will play a major role in sustaining the economic growth of the UAE and will ultimately change the way goods and people move across the Emirates. The railway will run through Taweelah, giving the Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi added connectivity for its future tenants. The network will also form a vital part of the planned GCC railway – linking to Saudi Arabia via Ghweifat in the west and to Oman via Al Ain in the east.