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Dubai Metro, on the right track

Joy Sengupta
Filed on March 7, 2008

Next year, one of Dubai’s most ambitious projects so far, Dubai Metro, will hit the tracks, literally. As the shiny blue driverless trains zip off, the emirate will take a giant step towards sorting out its traffic bottlenecks. KT throws light on what the dream is actually going to look like. A report...

Soon you will be comfortable and be on time.

This tag line of the Dubai Metro is going to become real soon. The ‘dream’ of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, is all set to become a reality by next year.

The denizens of the emirate will witness shiny blue driverless Metro trains zipping on different routes giving a new face to the existing public transport system. The Dh15.5-billion project, undertaken by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), is all set to write a new chapter in the history of the emirate.

Dubai Metro is all set to become the most important public transport system in the emirate. A fully operational Metro would commute people to most of the locations in the emirate in no time.

Metro Lines Extension

Moreover, the RTA has also talked about and is planning the extension of the Metro lines as well. The Red Line of the project, which would be completed first, would be extended from the Jebel Ali Free Zone to the Dubai-Abu Dhabi border. The RTA officials are also studying options to extend the Red Line from Jebel Ali to the Jebel Ali Airport, which is under construction at the moment.

The extension of the Greeen Line has been approved already, with the line extended to 4.9 km from the Healthcare City to Jaddaf. Initially, the Green Line was to be 17.6-km long.

Similarly, the Purple and the Blue Lines would be catering to the commuters between the Dubai International Airport and the Jebel Ali Airport and the Emirates Road.

With these extensions, it is clear that the Metro would be carrying commuters to most of the locations in the emirate. These five-car (compartment) trains, moving at an average speed of 110 km per hour, will be a boon to the daily commuters.

Traffic Jams Passe!

Traffic has become one of the primary concerns of the people of Dubai at the moment. With the huge increase in population and the number of cars, the traffic problem in the emirate has gone from bad to worse.

According to the records of the Dubai Statistics Centre, the population in Dubai was 1.130 million in 2005. It increased to 1.422 million in 2006. This shows that 24,333 people were added to Dubai’s population every month, 800 daily and around 33 every hour during 2006.

A study conducted by the Research Unit at Mashreq Bank in conjunction with Macroeconomic Research Centre has revealed that the UAE’s population in 2010 would be over 6.41 million, as compared to 5.19 million in 2007. The population is expected to hit 6.88 million in 2011.

With the increase in population, the number of vehicles has also witnessed a sharp rise.

According to the statistics, a total of 212,867 vehicles are registered with the authorities, including 170,951 light vehicles, 5,256 buses, 16,304 light trucks, 8,287 heavy trucks, 312 heavy mechanical vehicles and 3,498 motorcycles.

With so many vehicles plying on the Dubai roads, traffic jams seem to be impossible to control at the moment. The RTA might be trying its best by constructing new bridges, roads, tunnels, interchanges etc., but then the problem is far from over.

However, most of the people in Dubai are of the view that change is on its way. “I sincerely think that Dubai Metro will play a very important part in solving the problem. With so many trains plying on the different routes without any traffic jams on the way, people will definitely bank on them. Moreover, the RTA has done a good job by providing parking spaces along the Metro stations so that people can park their cars and then travel in the Metro. This move, if properly handled, will bear useful results. Though the situation is bad at the moment, I am of the view that Metro will change it all,” said Gary Rohman, a Canadian national working at the Dubai Internet City.

People have also hailed the efforts of the RTA to provide an Integrated Public Transport System in the emirate.

“According to the news reports, the RTA is spending Dh30 billion on developing an integrated public transport system. This means that all forms of public transport would be interconnected. This is a good piece of news. I have four cars being used by my family members. With the Dubai Metro on the tracks, things would be much easier for us. I will always choose to travel by Metro rather than getting stuck for hours in a traffic jam on the road,” said Harish Sidwani, an Indian national owning a business in Dubai.

In all, the biggest project of the RTA, when completed and fully operational, would give Dubai and the UAE an advantage over the rest in the region. The Metro would drive the emirate into new heights of popularity.

Things to remember:

  • The Roads and Transport Authority announced the Dubai Metro Project on March 21, 2006 with His Highness Shaikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime minister of the UAE and the Ruler of Dubai inaugurated the construction work.
  • The total cost of the project is Dh15.5 billion and will be completed in a matter of 49 months time.
  • The total length of the Dubai Metro is expected to reach 318 km by 2020. When fully functional, the metro will be able to carry about 1.8 million passengers every day.
  • The Dubai Metro consists of four lines at the moment. They are the Red Line, Green Line, Purple Line and the Blue Line. While the construction of the Red Line and the Green Line is on, the other two lines are under planning and design and would be operational by 2012.
  • The first stage comprises of the Red Line which will be completed by September 2009. The Green Line comes in next and the constructed is expected to be operational by 2010.
  • The total fleet of the Metro trains is expected to reach 131. When completed, the Dubai Metro will cover a total 70 km by 2012.
  • The first phase of the network (Red and Green Line) is being built by Dubai Rapid Link (DURL) Consortium which comprises Japanese companies including Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Mitsubishi Corporation, Obayashi Corporation, Kajima Corporation and the Turkish company Yapi Merkezi. The trains are being constructed in Japan.
  • The stations along the Red Line include the Jebel Ali Port Station, Stations 2 - 5, American University in Dubai, Internet City Station, Stations 8 and 9, Souk al Nakheel Station, Stations 11 - 17, Burj Dubai Station, Financial City Station, Emirates Towers Station, Trade Center Station, Stations 22 - 24, BurJuman Station, Station 26, Al-Ittihad Square Station, Salahuddin Station, Stations 29 - 34 and Airport Free Zone Station. The stations which are numbers are the smaller stations.
  • The stations along the Green Line include Festival City Station, Stations 2 and 3, Health Care City Station, Stations 5 - 7, BurJuman Station, Stations 9 - 13, Al-Ittihad Square Station, Stations 15 - 16, Dubai International Airport Terminal 1 Station, Dubai International Airport Terminal 3 Station, Station 21 and Rashidiya Station.
  • There will be two transfer stations, namely the Union Square and the BurJuman Centre. At the transfer stations, Green and Red Lines will cross each other and passengers will be able to change between lines. The trains will arrive and leave at 3 to 4 minute intervals on each of the stations.
  • There would be car parking facility will be provided to metro users. People can park their vehicles at any of the Metro stations and then use the train services. There would be two major parking lots on Red Line, one at Rashidiya Station and at Jumeirah Islands Station. Also, the biggest parking lot will be built at Al Qusais Station. In addition, there will be small parking spaces at each station and the stations will be linked to other mode of transportation.
  • All the main metro stations will have adjacent bus stations, taxi services and water transport links at stations near the creek. The RTA is planning to introduce an integrated card system which will enable passengers to travel on trains, buses and water transport.
  • All the Dubai Metro stations will be equipped with facilities like wireless internet, close circuit television and retail outlets to make commuting convenient and reliable. The Metro stations will have a unique design, merging modernism with tradition. Steps have been taken to ensure that people with special needs are able to travel conveniently in the Metro stations.
  • The interiors of the stations would be designed based on the four elements of nature, water, air, fire and earth. Public announcement and information will be provided in both audio and visual.
  • The trains would be operational from 5 am till 12.30 am at night. The interior of the trains is based on a water and air theme. Every train will have five compartments. The trains will have three classes, namely the Golden Class (VIP), the Women and Children’s Class and the Silver Class (economy).
  • The Golden Class will have a luxurious interior with leather seating. The Women and Children’s compartments will have plenty of space for strollers and bags to ensure a comfortable journey. Seating is arranged in different ways giving passengers the choice between admiring views through windows or chatting with friends. All compartments will have reserved wheelchair spaces for special needs people.
  • The elderly, injured, special needs people and pregnant women will have the choice of priority seating. The compartments will be equipped with audio visual devices. Clear signage will show the route map of the metro and other directions for passengers. Closed circuit television in all trains will ensure a safe journey.
  • There will be three main train depots for the maintenance work. The Red Line will have a main depot in Rashidiya and one auxiliary depot at Jebel Ali Free Zone. The main depot for train parking and maintenance in the Greeen Line will be in the Al Qusais area.*The ticket prices have not been decided as of yet.
  • The Dubai Metro would start in trial run by March end this year on the test tracks set up near the Jebel Ali Depot. The first consignment of trains are on its way to Dubai from Japan.

RED LINE

This is the first track of the Dubai Metro Project.The first Metro train would be running along the Red Line. The Red Line will be 52.9 km long consisting of 29 stations in all. Of them, 24 stations would be elevated; four would be under ground and one ground level. Moreover, 4.7 km this line will be underground. It will run, mainly on viaducts, along Shaikh Zayed Road, from Jebel Ali through Burjuman in Bur Dubai, under Dubai Creek to Union Square in Deira, and onto Dubai International Airport and beyond. The Red Line is expected to see a completion by September 2009.

The first Dubai Metro would be running along the Red Line.

All the elevated stations on the Red Line will be completed by 2008. The underground stations would see a completion by early 2009.There will be two transfer stations, namely Union Square and the BurJuman Centre. At the transfer stations, Green and Red Lines will cross each other and passengers will be able to change between lines. The construction of the Red Line started in August 2005 at a total cost of Dh9.4 billion. The frequency of trains on the Red Line will be every 3 minutes and 45 seconds during peak times and 7 minutes during off peak times. The capacity of the will be around 11675 passengers per direction per hour in 2010 with 51 trains in service per direction. The ultimate capacity of the Red Line is 25720 passengers per direction per hour with 106 trains in operations per direction.

GREEN LINE

The Green Line is the second track or line of the Dubai Metro. The Line is 22.5 km long with 20 stations in all. Of them, 12 would be elevated ones and 8 would be underground stations. Two of the Underground stations which include Union Square and Burjuman are transfer stations.

7.9 km of this line will be underground. The Green Line is a more localised route that focuses on two of Dubai’s most densely populated areas - Deira and Bur Dubai. It is planned that the Green Line will run from Union Square through Deira and Bur Dubai to Burjuman, through Health Care City to Jaddaf in the South, and from Union Square through the intersection of Al Nahda and Damascus Road to Al Qiyadah intersection towards Al-Qusais Area.

The construction of the Greeen Line began in July 2006 at a total cost of Dh 4.1 billion. The Green line will initially transport 6,394 passengers per hour per direction by 2010. There would be 16 trains in service per direction initially. The ultimate capacity of the Green Line is 13,381 passengers per hour per direction with 60 trains in operation per direction. At present, the Green Line is 20 percent complete and would be operation by 2010.

PURPLE LINE

The Purple Line will be an express service linking the Jebel Ali Airport with Dubai International Airport consisting of eight stations. The Line will be built at an estimated cost of Dh10 billion and will mainly serve passengers between the two airports. The Purple Line will have eight stations, including three major stations with check-in facilities for passengers intending to travel from either of the two airports. Passengers will be able to check in at the stations, take boarding passes and take the train to travel straight to the airport. The Line will have trains with a maximum speed of 135 km to 160 km per hour. The average speed of the train will be 100km per hour. The RTA and the Civil Aviation department will jointly bear the cost of the project. The construction will start in March 2009 and is scheduled to finish in 45 months by December 2012. The RTA would invite for the project by May 2008. Each train on the purple line will have nine compartments in all. There would be compartments for luggage in addition to separate compartments for women and children. The Line would start from the Dubai International Airport and pass through Festival City, Jaddaf and Business Bay and will run on Al Khail Road. Some major stations of the Purple Line would be also connected to the Al Sofouh Tram network. The Purple Line will also have link with the Red Line and studies are on regarding connecting it with the Green Line as well.

BLUE LINE:

The Blue Line would be 47 km long and will run along the Emirates Road and will also provide a shuttle service between the two airports. The RTA has made it clear that there may be changes in a number of stations and facilities in these two lines. The RTA has said that both the lines are in the planning stage. The contract for the Purple Line has been awarded a short time back. The construction is yet to commence on these two lines. These lines are expected to be operation only by 2012.


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