No mode of transportation is as romantic as a train. As long as they existed, trains were most likely part of the world literature of the late 18th century. Great novels and poems have been written about trains and the stories that take place there. Love stories, happy stories, sad stories and mysterious stories.
On the other hand, I barely remember the compelling literature on airplanes, buses, or cars. There is something about trains that ignites the imagination and arouses genius. “Trains go where cars can and can’t: in canyons, along rivers, through mountains, weaving through backyards and downtown areas. So many things about trains are visionary, ”notes American author Ruth Levy Guyer, who says she“ wakes up dreaming of train travel: frozen lakes and midnight sun on the Oslo-Arctic route; gold mines and the vast outback along Australia’s Indian Pacific line.
The Night Mail, a classic poem by English poet WH Auden (1907-1973) is universally regarded as one of the greatest works of poetic composition in English literature of the last century. This is a train that carried mail in Scotland:
It’s the night mail that crosses the border, Bringing the check and the money order,
Letters for the rich, letters for the poor, The corner shop, the girl next door.
Trains in the Arab world
Trains have also found their place in Arabic literature. One of the iconic gems of Arab poetry of the last century is “The Rail and Hamad”, written in the early 1950s by the legendary Iraqi poet Mudaffar Al Nuwab. It tells a true story of a broken heart; a love story that went wrong and cruel traditions out of date. He said he was on a train traveling south from Baghdad when he noticed a sad-looking woman in her 40s.
When the train approached a small town called Om Shamat, there were tears on his face. He had to ask. She fled this village 20 years earlier because she suspected her family were planning to kill her because she had fallen in love with a relative and refused to marry the person the family had. chosen for her. The way it was told by Al Nuwab, the story was fascinating, heartbreaking. However, the train is the main character of the poem, which has since become a symbol of rebellion against outdated customs.
However, trains aren’t just about romance. It can be argued that today’s world, with all of its technological advancements and extensive connectivity, is a product of rail. Trains shaped the world and planted the seeds of globalization almost 250 years ago.
Imagine, for example, Canada without rail. The unity of this beautiful and vast country would not have been possible in the first place without the steam railway, which was developed in the 19th century. The first railway built in Canada was the Champlain and Saint Lawrence Railroad from La Prairie on the Saint Lawrence River to Saint-Jean on the Richelieu River – funded by Montreal businessmen like John Molson, this line was officially opened on July 21, 1836. Three decades later, in 1867, Canada was declared a united country.
Importance of the train
Canada has been changed forever. From a vast territory with bad roads and frozen waterways almost 5 months a year to a very well connected country. The railroad changed the transport and movement of people and goods. It helped accelerate industrialization, facilitated the settlement of immigrants, and enabled federal and local governments to embark on development projects.
Literally a nation was built by rail. If you know the enormous size of Canada (9.985 million square kilometers stretching from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific in the west and from the United States in the south to the Arctic Ocean in the north), you can appreciate the role of the railroad in allowing a person or courier to travel from eastern Canada to British Columbia in the far west.
The evolution of the United States is a similar story. The unification of this powerful country would also have been impossible without the railroad.
This powerful, life-changing tool is intended to reshape another beautiful country, the United Arab Emirates. As announced last week, Etihad Rail, the 50 billion dirhams strategic project, will develop passenger service in its second phase of construction. The first stage, the freight service, already started to operate in 2016.
Shaikh Theyab Bin Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the Court of the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and President of Etihad Rail, said the UAE railways program was a key milestone in the road transport sector and a true reflection of the “Principles of the 50”, the vision for development in the next 50 years.
Etihad Rail was established in June 2009 under Federal Law No. 2, with the mandate to “manage the development, construction and operation of the UAE’s national freight and passenger rail network”. The network will connect the main centers of population and industry in the country, and will also be part of the proposed GCC rail network.
A flagship project
Commercial activity, Stage One, started in January 2016 and has since transported “over 30 million tonnes of granulated sulfur for the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) – the equivalent of approximately 1.8 million truck trips. To measure the positive impact on the environment, a single train trip takes about 300 trucks off the road, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 70-80% (compared to the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by trucks necessary to carry the same load). The first stage, 246 km long, currently links the Shah and Habshan gas fields to the port of Ruwais where the granulated sulfur is processed for export.
Meanwhile, the second stage, which is under construction, will stretch 605 kilometers from Ghuweifat on the border with Saudi Arabia to Fujairah on the east coast of the United Arab Emirates, and will be followed by future road additions. The network will connect the country via Abu Dhabi, Kizad (Khalifa Abu Dhabi industrial zone), the port of Khalifa, the port of Jebel Ali, Dubai, Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah, while being connected to the existing line in Ruwais, “effectively uniting the main industrial ports and commercial centers of the country”, according to the announcement of the project.
When the entire project is completed, “the volume of goods transported on the network will increase from 7 million tonnes per year in the first stage to more than 50 million tonnes, thus replacing more than 5,600 truck trips on the road. per day. By 2030, the project will have created more than 9,000. It is operated by Emirati executives.
Regarding the return on investment, Etihad Rail is expected to create economic opportunities worth up to Dh200 billion – the estimated value of the reduction in carbon emissions is Dh21 billion, the saving of road maintenance is Dh 8 billion, potential returns from tourism are estimated at Dh 23 billion over the next 50 years, and an estimated addition to the UAE economy which is valued at Dh 23 billion.
Meanwhile, passenger rail services will literally revolutionize the transportation system across the UAE, “allowing passengers to travel from Abu Dhabi to Dubai in 50 minutes and Abu Dhabi to Fujairah in 100 minutes.” These trains will run at a speed of 200 km / h and are expected to carry more than 36.5 million passengers per year by 2030.
So it’s not just money and carbon footprints that we’re going to save. We’re going to save a more precious commodity, time. Instead of the two-hour drive from Dubai to Abu Dhabi on one of the trans-emirates highways, alongside fast trucks and minibuses, one can sit back and enjoy the train ride in less than half the time. You can spend this quality time with your family, with friends, or with a book. You will meet new people. You will have your own train story.
The railroad changed the world and contributed the most to its economic and industrial evolution. But it also had a big impact on the culture. The habit of reading developed mainly on the train.
In the United Arab Emirates, I expect the railroad to help develop this important part of life. Etihad Rail will thus not only help transform our economic life; it will add a little romance to it.