Dubai: Smart train, rail bus projects could take off soon

The RTA is studying these two innovative transportation solutions to add to its mass transit network

by

Angel Tesorero

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Published: Thu 18 Jan 2024, 8:07 PM

Last updated: Fri 19 Jan 2024, 10:21 PM

A light-weight driverless smart-train resembling a ‘platoon of pods’ and a solar-powered rail bus system are two innovative transportation solutions Dubai is studying to add to its mass transit network.

On Thursday, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) signed two memoranda of understanding (MoU) with international companies during the Dubai International Project Management Forum (DIPMF).

Abdul Mohsen Kalbat, CEO of the Rail Agency at RTA, noted the signing of two MoUs “is part of RTA’s strategic plans to engage in communication with premier companies and specialised entities to identify and adopt the most sophisticated and advanced practices.”

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The first MoU was signed with UK-based Urban.Mass to develop Floc Duo Rail system, a double-track system that allows transportation units to move quickly and efficiently; and the second agreement was with US-based Rail Bus Inc. for the solar-powered rail bus system.

Driverless pods

According to Urban.Mass, Floc Duo Rail system is comprised of “driverless, electric-powered pods moving on an elevated track that does not require earthworks, costly tunnels and large stations.”

“The lines can be installed more swiftly than building a traditional transit system or even a new road. Its light infrastructure consumes far less concrete and steel than light rail. Its solar panels provide much of the energy required for operation. And the driverless Floc Duo Rail trains are smart-designed to match capacity to demand, reducing unnecessary energy consumption,” Urban.Mass noted on its website.

The system can be scaled from a small local area or neighbourhood to a city-wide network.

According to RTA, “the system features double tracks that allow transportation units to move swiftly and efficiently within urban areas. It is a driverless system and uses electrical power. This system uses short units during low peak periods and long units during high peak periods to meet the emirate's needs effectively.”

The mass transport solution is designed for zero carbon emission as the pods will operate on a bridge outfitted with solar panels.

“The system is ideally suited to move between 1,000 and 16,000 riders per hour per direction. It is potentially suitable for cities with populations between 200,000 and 10 million,” noted Urban.Mass.

Ricky Sandhu, founder and CEO of Urban.Mass, said “the partnership between Urban.Mass and RTA in Dubai epitomises the robust mutual commitment of UK and the UAE to combat climate change. The partnership is set to pave the way for sustainable mass transit solutions through innovative technology, transforming urban mobility across the city.”

Towards a greener future

The second MoU signed with US-based Rail Bus Inc is for the development of solar-powered rail bus system that will use small, driverless electric vehicles that also run on elevated tracks.

“The lightweight and flexible nature of the system enables it to be retrofitted into a broad range of environments and provide transportation that is environmentally-friendly and operationally-efficient,” noted Rail Bus Inc.

“The light weight vehicles and high flexibility in operations reduces the cost of the tracks infrastructure significantly, reaching less than 20 percent of the cost of a Metro system that has the same length and capacity,” the company added.

Hatim Ibrahim, CEO of Rail Bus Inc., said the partnership with RTA is aimed at setting “new benchmarks in sustainable mobility tailored to the unique needs of Dubai. The partnership also signifies a leap towards a greener future.”

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