The first rail system in the United Arab Emirates could start running as early as 2013, according to reports from the region this week.
Described as "one of the most significant national projects in the development of the UAE," the project will eventually offer some 1,200 km, connecting the various Emirates and linking it to neighbors Saudi Arabia and Oman.
In a region which is currently wholly reliant on road haulage, it is expected to provide significant environmental benefits - the first trains which run on the tracks will be freight trains running between the Habshan oil fields to the industrial town of Ruwais.
However, it is the long-term plans - part of a vision likely to cost billions of dollars - which is set to change the way locals and tourists get around the UAE.
Sixteen million passengers are expected to travel on the network annually within the next 20 to 30 years, according to models from authorities, using high speed trains to get around the country's seven distinct Emirates.
Between the country's two major conurbations, Abu Dhabi and Dubai, a shuttle train running at speeds of 200 km/h is being considered, making a day trip from one to the other much easier - and providing better access to the UAE's two main airports.
On a wider scale, the ambitious and expensive project will connect the UAE to the greater GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) rail network, helping visitors and residents to travel easily throughout the Gulf region on modern, fast trains.Reuse content