Dubai races to complete tram system for November opening

In November 2014, Arabia’s first tram system will start operating in the city of Dubai to start a new era for Middle East mass passenger transport. Dubai’s Road & Transport Authority (RTA) is racing to ensure trams will be running by the target opening date.

The Dubai Tram line will ultimately run from the Mall of the Emirates to Dubai Marina. It supplements the highly-successful Dubai Metro Red and Green Lines, opened in September 2009, and constitutes an important further development in Dubai’s mass transport system.

The Dubai Tram is just one of the projects that will feature at MEED’s 10th MENA Rail & Metro Projects conference at the Conrad Hotel in Dubai on 20-22 October.

It was originally planned for completion together with the first phase of the Dubai Metro in September 2009. Dubai’s financial problems prompted a decision to postpone the opening until 2012. Initial tests have been successfully completed.

“The technical trial run made for the tram in the depot was a success,” says Mattar Al Tayer, RTA chairman of the board and executive director. “The tram moved smoothly without wobbling or noises…”

The low noise level is because Dubai Tram is powered by ground feed with no catenary cables. It’s the first time this technology has been used outside Europe.

The ultimate plan is for the tramway to extend 14.6km. Its initial phase is a 10.6 km-long track from the Dubai Marina and to the tram depot near Dubai Police Academy at the junction of Shaikh Zayed road and Umm Suqeim Road. On 5 July, Dubai’s ruler Shaikh Mohammed Bin Rashed al-Maktoum announced plans for the academy site to be redeveloped into one of the world’s largest integrated retail and leisure complexes.

The trams route will take passengers past some of Dubai’s leading landmarks. It joins the Jumeirah Beach road at the junction with Al-Rasha street. It then heads south past Dubai College, Knowledge Village, the Palm Jumeirah to the Mina Seyahi Hotel. Here the track turns to the eastern perimeter of the Dubai Marina and follows an elevated section for almost 2kms. At the southern end of the marina, the tramway heads west for a kilometre before turning north through the marina and the re-crossing the marina to rejoin the elevated section. The system links with Dubai Metro at Dubai Marina and Jumeirah Lakes Towers and it connects with the Palm Jumeirah Monorail at the entrance of the Palm.

The tram system, which will operate initially from 5am until 1am the following day, is designed to relieve rush-hour congestion in the Marina area but there’s no doubt it is also aimed at tourists and other visitors to Dubai. The rolling stock combines comfort as well as efficiency. Each train is 44 meters long and has a capacity to accommodate about 300 riders. There will be a first class cabin, a ladies and children cabin and silver class.

Eleven tram trains will be used in the initial phase and 14 trams will be added in the second. They are expected to lift about 27,000 riders a day at the start of operations. This is projected to rise to 66,000 riders a day by 2020.

MENA Rail and Metro Summit 2014 is in its 10th year and our strategic plan is in delivering an exceptionally high level of seniority, with leading key decision makers and stakeholders from the GCC and other parts of the Middle East. The event is being held at the Conrad Hotel Dubai on 20-22 October 2014.