Systra wins consultancy deal for Light Rail Project

Systra is gearing up to be the design consultant for the Dubai Light Rail Project, which is on the drawing boards at the Dubai Municipality.

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By  Eudore Chand Published  December 13, 2003

Systra is gearing up to be the design consultant for the Dubai Light Rail Project, which is on the drawing boards at the Dubai Municipality. The France-based major is a global consulting engineering firm specialised in rail and urban transport systems and its Dubai contract includes the drawing up of tender documents. In the ambitious intelligent transport system (ITS) project that is estimated to cost in the region of Dh8 billion, Systra will work in close co-operation with engineers from Dubai Municipality, according to Nasser Saeed, chairman of the Dubai Light Rail Project. He says that the investment estimates are very preliminary. The final count will depend on the design Systra produces. Systra will also be partnered by Dar al Handasah, a Lebanese and Egyptian engineering company which is well established in Dubai, and RSM Salustro-Reydel, AREP (an SNCF subsidiary) and Systra’s own subsidiary, MVA. Design work is projected to take about a year and the first phase of construction at least another four years. The system should be up and running by 2009/2010, says the project chairman. The project is designed for further expansion, which would take its handling capacity up to the year 2017. Construction works alone are estimated to crost half of the estimated investment. The project was showcased at Gulf Traffic and Mena Rail show that was run by IIR last week at the Dubai International Exhibitions Centre. “We are introducing a new mode of transport in the Middle East where till now private and public cars and buses have been used. For the first time, a city in the Middle East will have an automated mode of transport which can do more than any other mode,” says Nasser Saeed. “This is an ambitious project with a budget of over one billion euros of works and installations by 2017. It is the first railway project in the region and will, therefore, provide a showcase for Systra’s knowhow, which will be closely scrutinised in the region’s capital cities,” Systra states. Naser Saeed says Dubai has 500 000 registered vehicles for a population of 1.1 million. The emirate is very congested with 90% of population living in less than 10% of the land. “It is not enough just to build roads [to] solve the traffic problem. We have been first with traffic management tools such as parking meters, ITS systems which we introduced last year, and dynamic navigation systems. But Dubai Light Rail is a strategic project.” The project will have elevated sections where possible and will be underground where roads are narrow and congested and where it would spoil the aesthetic look of the city. Approximately 70% of the track will be elevated above ground. The project will be built in two stages. Stage one will extend over 50 km. The system will consist of two metro lines. The Green Line will run east to west from the airport towards Jebel Ali Free Zone and Port via the centre of town and through to Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Road (old Trade Centre Road). The Red Line will run along a north-south axis, parallel to the coast. Both lines will together total 50 km or so. To these will be adds a circular line of the tramway or single rail type called the CBD Circulator, over 8 km, which will service a densely urbanised sector in the centre of town. In the first stage, the Green Line will stop at American University. “A rail project needs input. If there are not enough passengers, there is no need to have it. We will need to carry 10 000 passengers per hour in either direction; otherwise there will be a problem. We will build to a capacity of 40 000-50 000 passengers per hour in either direction,” Nasser Saeed says. By 2010, the municipality projects the light rail system will carry 400 million passengers a year. “These kind of numbers cannot be carried by normal mode of transport. The Dubai Light Rail will supplement road transport. Road construction will continue to assist development in Dubai.” The promoters are toying with the idea of using idle capacity at night to transport cargo from the airport to Jebel Ali Free Zone. “We may use the rail with specialised rolling stock to carry goods from the airport to Jafz. This will make it more cost effective,” he adds.

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