A 700 km line connecting the United Arab Emirates will form a key element in the planned Gulf rail network, according to the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi General Shaikh Mohammad bin Zayed al Nahyan.

Speaking at the UAE’s 34th anniversary celebrations on December 6, the Crown Prince sanctioned funding for a technical and financial feasibility study of a line linking Abu Dhabi with Dubai, Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah in the east and with Ruwais and Ghowaifat in the west. This will also look at PPP financing options.

’We are confident that the Emirates Railways can be a major freight transport system throughout the region’, he said, adding that that commuter services could be developed as a second phase.

UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman are already co-operating in a study for a regional rail network as part of efforts to strengthen the economies of the Gulf Co-operation Council members by 2010. Head of the Abu Dhabi Planning & Economy Department Shaikh Hamed bin Zayed al Nahyan confirmed that preliminary studies into wider UAE transport options favoured the rail mode, with particular emphasis on container traffic.