Etihad Rail, the entity responsible for developing and operating the UAE National Rail Network, has joined forces with ride-hailing platform Uber in a collaborative agreement.
The initial partnership aims to expand passenger transportation options in the country and foster the sharing of mobility data to better serve the market.
Under the agreement, signed during the recent Middle East Rail event, the two companies will work together to enhance first and last mile initiatives and broaden services across the UAE. Uber stated that they will explore opportunities for integrating e-hailing services and assess the feasibility of creating dedicated pick-up and drop-off areas for Uber passengers within railway stations, offering a seamless journey planning experience.
The pact aligns with Etihad Rail's objective of establishing accessible and integrated transportation throughout the UAE, particularly in areas with limited accessibility. Nicolas Petrovic, CEO of Etihad Rail Mobility, emphasized the aim of improving residents' living standards and facilitating convenient and affordable commuting across the country.
Etihad Rail, after its successful launch of freight services in February, is preparing to commence passenger operations in the near future, although an official date has yet to be announced.
The passenger trains will operate at speeds of up to 200kph and will have the capacity to transport approximately 400 individuals across 11 cities and regions throughout the UAE, spanning from Al Sila in the west to Fujairah in the north.
With the introduction of passenger services, travelers will enjoy significantly reduced travel times. For instance, the journey from Abu Dhabi to Dubai will take just 50 minutes, Dubai to Fujairah can be completed in 50 minutes, and the trip from Abu Dhabi to Fujairah will take approximately 100 minutes.
Officials have confirmed that the train carriages will be equipped with amenities such as Wi-Fi, entertainment systems, and charging points to cater to the diverse needs of individuals in the UAE, including families, workers, and tourists.
To enhance the overall transportation experience, the railway system will be seamlessly integrated with existing public transport systems, including buses and the metro. Additionally, there are plans to introduce a unified ticketing and journey planning system for enhanced convenience.
As part of their collaboration, Etihad Rail and Uber will work together to gain insights into passenger activity and movement between cities within the UAE. This collaborative effort will involve studying travel patterns between emirates, analyzing factors such as trip duration and distances, and examining popular travel destinations, including bus and metro stations. The aim is to better understand the distribution of trips originating from these transportation hubs, enabling both entities to enhance their services accordingly.
Frans Hiemstra, Director and Regional General Manager of Uber Middle East and Africa, emphasized the importance of public transit as a fundamental element for efficiently transporting a larger number of people, reducing congestion, and mitigating pollution in cities. He further highlighted that evolving passenger behavior in utilizing public transportation necessitates the integration of technology to address complex transport challenges effectively.
During the Middle East Rail event, Etihad Rail sealed several agreements, including a partnership with SkyGo, a specialist in drone cargo services, and another with Arsenale, an Italian luxury hospitality company, for a luxury rail service. While no specific launch date was disclosed for the luxury "rail cruise" service, it is expected to traverse the UAE from Fujairah to the Liwa desert in Abu Dhabi. Arsenale revealed plans for constructing 15 luxury carriages for the train, which are currently being built in Puglia and Sicily.
In addition, Etihad Rail entered into a 20-year partnership agreement with DHL Global Forwarding to establish a joint venture, bolstering the UAE's efforts to strengthen its freight network. Through this collaboration, DHL will leverage Etihad Rail's network to facilitate its operations within the UAE.
News Source: The National News