Etihad Rail – the master developer and operator of the UAE’s national railway network – has just returned from leading an extensive delegation visit with the Supreme Committee for Safety & Security to review best practice in the field of rail security.
The delegation, which comprised Dubai Civil Defense, Dubai Municipality and Abu Dhabi Police GHQ, travelled to the UK, Spain, France and Germany over the course of two months where they met with both public and private entities to gain insight on leading public safety and security standards and procedures, operational models and safety-security overlap measures. The visit also enabled the team to fully examine how safety standards are drafted, applied and followed by operators in the various European countries.
Commenting on the trip, Dr. Hazem Mobarek, Acting CEO at Etihad Rail, said: “Our visit to Europe with the Supreme Committee for Safety & Security provided us with critical insight in the fields of railway public safety and security. At Etihad Rail, we are dedicated to looking at how similar railway developers and operators are succeeding around the world, and gaining knowledge on these global best practices such that we are able to implement a railway system for the first time in the UAE to the highest level of standards and procedures.”
In the UK and Spain the group was able to review the overall procedures in the field of rail security and to analyse the different models of operational security, especially freight security. The London leg of the trip saw the delegates meet with representatives from the Department of Transport, who explained the operation of the UK rail network, and in Spain they met with ADIF, the company that owns the infrastructure of the railway and RENFE, who has responsibility for the operation of the country’s rail network.
In Germany and France, the team looked closely at the overlap between safety and security and how emergency teams manage and control accidents or events. Moreover, they studied the development process of safety standards, looking at how European countries follow the region-wide European Safety Standards yet mould these to fit the needs and requirements of each country. This part of the trip saw them meet with Deutsche Bahn International in Berlin as well as other stops in Paris.
Etihad Rail has drawn upon the best international practices since its inception, with company-led delegations to China, the U.S., Belgium and Canada in 2011. During these trips, the team was able to share with other industry representatives the challenges, opportunities and benefits of cooperation between rail, ports, shipping lines, freight forwarders, terminal operators and freight customers.
When complete, the Etihad Rail network will span a total of 1,200km across the Emirates and connect urban and remote communities, facilitating trade, opening up communication channels and fostering economic development. The network will also form a vital part of the GCC Railway Network, linking the UAE to Saudi Arabia via Ghweifat in the west and Oman via Al Ain in the east. It is an integral part of the vision for the economic development of the Western Region, Abu Dhabi Emirate, the UAE and the wider GCC region. Construction on Stage One in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi is currently underway.