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    Huawei Helps Etihad Rail Build GCC Railway Network


Established in 2009, Etihad Rail manages the construction and operation of the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE’s) national freight and passenger railway network. To complete a section of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) railway network, Etihad Rail is building 1,200 kilometers of track across the UAE from the border with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Kuwait in the west to Oman in the east. Connecting the Gulf countries, the GCC railway aims to facilitate resource exports and travel in the region.

Etihad Rail is building the 1,200-kilometer railway network in three stages. The first stage is a 264-kilometer route for transporting sulfur from its sources at Shah and Habshan to Ruwais, where the sulfur is exported by the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC). The route will also facilitate passenger transportation between the three cities.


To ensure interoperability between the east and west segments of the GCC railway network, Etihad Rail adopted European Railway Traffic Management System (ERTMS) standards and constructed a signaling system that complies with European Train Control System Level 2 (ETCS L2) standards. As a network for supporting this signaling system, the company chose a GSM-R wireless communications system.

The communications system has to provide a high level of device stability and overall reliability despite the UAE’s harsh climate. Most railway lines of the Stage 1 project pass through deserts where temperatures can be as high as 45℃. All of the equipment has to comply with the European rail standards to ensure full interoperability.


With more than 10 years’ experience in railway communications, Huawei has the expertise to provide complete communication services for Etihad Rail that meets the European standards. Huawei’s Railway Operational Communication Solution implements a highly reliable GSM-R network that includes redundancy and hot backup for all Network Elements (NEs). The design has geographical redundancy of core network equipment and base station controllers, with automatic disaster recovery mechanisms and dual-layer radio coverage.

Huawei’s GSM-R solution has passed interoperability tests with a number of major signaling system providers and communications system providers. The solution has been adopted by a number of railway lines to provide mobile communication services.


When commercial operations begin, the railway will transport 30 million tons of freight and 160 million passengers annually. This new railway will promote the export of mineral and energy resources as well as the movement of people between major economic zones, boosting regional economic development. The successful implementation of the Stage 1 project sets a good example for the subsequent two stages.