With an economy increasingly based upon financial services, air transport, property development and tourism, Dubai also has a rapidly growing population and severe traffic congestion problems. Population is forecast to increase by 6.4% annually to reach some 3 million by 2017, with tourist numbers projected to reach 15 million by 2010.
From studies started in 1997, Dubai Municipality identified the need for a rail system to relieve growing motor traffic and support continuing urban development. Systra was awarded the preliminary engineering contract, and a consortium of four companies headed by Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) is leading the project to build the first two lines of a high-tech driverless rapid transit system. Other consortium members include the Japanese Obayashi and Kajima corporations, and Yapi Merkesi of Turkey.
The Metro will be fully integrated within the network operated by the Roads & Transport Authority (RTA), a body created in 2005. Routes will be organised around the backbone provided by the rail system.
Groundworks began in February 2006, centred around the 52.1km Red Line. In August 2006 a second contract worth US$.12bn was awarded to the MHI consortium for bulding the Green Line.
"Dubai Municipality identified the need for a rail system to relieve growing motor traffic and support continuing urban development."
Green Line will link strategic ********s Dubai Airport and Healthcare City. In June 2007 Serco (operator of the London Docklands Light Railway) was named as preferred bidder for initial consultation and the system's operation and maintenance.
The £400m contract, potentially for up to 12 and a half years, relates to the first two lines. In May 2008, the RTA reported that the project was ahead of schedule, with 70% of Red Line and 27% of Green Line construction completed.
The 52.1km (32.5 mile) Red Line will have 29 stations, four of which will be underground. It will run from Rashidiva to Jebel Ali passing the American University of Dubai. It is planned that the first phase will open in September 2009. The whole 52.1km is expected to take 60 minutes to travel, with an estimated 32,000 passengers per hour.
The 22.5 km (14 mile) Green Line will have 18 stations from Al Ittihad Square to Rashidiya bus station through Deira City Centre and Dubai Airport Terminals 1 and 3. It will be progressively extended to serve the Deira and Bur Dubai central areas and Souks up to Burjuman and Wafi shopping centres. Interchange stations will be at Al Ittihad Square and Burjuman.
Underground sections in the city centre are on the Red Line from the intersection of Sheikh Rashid and Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed roads to just before the intersection of Salahuddin and Abu Bakr Al Siddique roads and from Garhoud to Oud Metha Road on the Green Line.
Elsewhere, trains will run on elevated viaducts, the design and aesthetics developed specifically to enhance the urban architecture along its corridor. In no ******** will tracks cross highways, ensuring full mode segregation. Although taxi, bus and water taxi feeder services are being structured to encourage end-to-end use of public transport, the RTA is creating three park and ride sites (the largest with 6,000 places).
Underground works have been carried out without affecting buildings, and authorities claim that residents will not be disturbed by excavation work. A third-rail power supply was chosen to avoid the visual intrusion of overhead line equipment. All stations, elevated or underground, will feature platform screen doors for passenger safety and facilitating air conditioning.
The driverless, fully automated trains are fully air-conditioned and designed to meet Dubai's specific requirements. Unusual for metro operation, the trains will offer standard 'Silver' class, a women and children only section plus a first class 'Gold' section ('carriage for VIPS'). Five-car sets will be approximately 75m long, seating around 400 passengers but with standing room for many more. Numerous double doors will allow fast and smooth flows.
Rolling stock is being supplied by Kinki Sharyo under a US$456.2m contract for 385 cars, the first arriving from Japan in March 2008 with the rest of the Red Line stock due by the end of the year. Local runs began at Jebel Ali in Dubai during May 2008. Requiring under-cover storage and maintenance due to local conditions of heat and dust, the main depot with a capacity for 64 trains will be at Rashidya. Auxiliary depots are being built at Jabel Ali and Al Ghusais..
SIGNALLING AND COMMUNICATIONS
The automatic train control system will allow headways of between 90 seconds and two minutes. In 2005 MHI contracted Alcatel (now Alcatel-Lucent) to supply the driverless train control system and a communications system for on-train video surveillance, passenger information, public address and the integrated control centre. Trains will be WiFi enabled.
Occupying 10,000m2, the system's control centre is at Rashidiya depot. The project's signalling system is moving block and fully automated with in-cab signalling. Reported as attracting considerable local criticism, in mid 2008 the RTA invited international bids for naming rights of 23 of the network's stations. .
In full operation, Dubai Metro is projected to carry approximately 1.2 million passengers on an average day, and 355 million passengers per year.
"With the Blue Line to follow the Purple Line, Dubai RTA expects 318km of metro lines to be in operation by 2020."
The operating cost including staff, maintenance and power should be approximately AE$570m per year, planned to be met through fares and additional revenues such as advertisement space and joint development.
In May 2007 the 49km Purple Line received approval, moving ahead of another future projection, the Blue Line. Parsons Brinckerhoff has been contracted for initial design work on the express, eight station line.
The Blue Line will link the current international airport with the new Dubai World Central International Airport which is being built at Jebel Ali, part of a 140km² multi-mode transport hub.
Nine-car trains configured for the demands of airport passengers will take 40 minutes between line termini. Starting construction in March 2009, Purple Line services are scheduled to begin in December 2012.
With the Blue Line to follow the Purple Line, Dubai RTA expects 318km of metro lines to be in operation by 2020. To further reduce the area's reliance upon road transport, the authority is considering adding 268km of light rail lines that will serve as feeders to Dubai Metro. In April 2008 the RTA announced the development of the Yellow Line, a light rail operation, would be by a consortium including Serco and Alstom.