Project Case Study

Greener solutions for Etihad Rail, UAE


Etihad Rail PJSC


Due for completion 2023


Heavy Haul

Tonne Axle Load

Customer challenge

The largest railway project in UAE, Etihad Rail has strengthened the country’s trade and population links, redefining transport and logistics in the region. Once fully complete, the UAE’s megaproject is expected to serve approximately 16 million passengers and 50 million tonnes of freight. Initially a heavy goods service, network is due to transport millions of passengers between cities by 2030.

The ambitious project also supports the UAE’s green targets, allowing for the sustainable replacement of 5,600 lorry trips per day, equating to up to 80% less carbon dioxide.

Etihad Rail PJSC required a premium under ballast mat solution that would protect the ballast and superstructure whilst improving the track quality, also attenuating vibration down to a specific level. The customer also required a low-maintenance, fastening-free and durable embedded track solution that would thrive in the depot and port sections of the rail.

The high axle load of 32.5 tonnes and specific superstructure across bridges made this ambitious project uniquely challenging but Pandrol’s Under Ballast Mat offering made us fully equipped to rise to the challenge, one of only a select few suppliers who could demonstrate the necessary technical qualifications.

Pandrol solution

The Etihad Rail project has been conducted in two stages, with Pandrol selected to provide our Under Ballast Mat (UBM) and Embedded Track Solution (QTrack®) for both. Stage One was completed in 2016, where around 250km of ballasted track was used to connect two large gasfields in Shah and Habshan to an export terminal in Rewais in the western region. Stage Two has consisted of six packages across UAE including a connection to the Saudi border, with more than 600km of additional track.

With a wide range of stiffness available, UBM was selected to address different customer problems such as track quality improvement, track protection, and vibration attenuation. Despite demanding specifications, our team of Pandrol engineers were able to analyse customer needs to design the highest performing solution for vibration attenuation – an issue which remains one of the most demanding challenges faced by railway infrastructure today.

For the embedded track solution, Pandrol supplied a tailor-made design according to the rail profile and rail inclination. The system needed to be durable against the extremely high temperatures of UAE and so the profile was designed to prevent buckling. Pandrol QTrack® as embedded rail technology can be simply casted-in-situ during the concreting phase.

Throughout the entire process, strong relationships were key. This was especially important at the beginning of the project when we were acting during a time with limited standards. Pandrol maintained close interactions with the customer and consulting engineers to cover the necessary documentation.


Despite the global energy and transport crisis over the last few years, Pandrol was able to meet the supply demands of the project to contribute to the success of this milestone project. Pandrol’s strong performance during Stage One paved the road for success in Stage Two, demonstrating the good relationships between Pandrol, the customer and contracting partners. With future work planned to extend the passenger transport network, 10 new stations and 50km of additional track has been planned.

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