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Railway engines for Dubai Metro to be selected soon

US $3.89 billion Dubai Light Rail project to connect the emirate is at the tendering stage

The first rail engines to chug across the sands of the southern Arabian Peninsula will soon be selected, according to promoters of the US $3.89 billion Dubai Light Rail Project. The ambitious project aims to connect various parts of the mushrooming city of Dubai.

“The Dubai Light Rail Project is currently in the tendering stage,” said Qassim Sultan, director general of Dubai Municipality, while explaining about the status of the project. “The estimated cost of the project is Dhs14.3 billion (US $3.89) billion. However, the actual cost of the project will only be known after the tenders have been announced, and that should be fairly soon,” Sultan said.

He added that the main contractor is in the process of being finalised. “Though the project is extremely sophisticated and requires an extremely high level of expertise even on the international scale, Dubai Municipality’s current schedule of the project envisages that site preparation and ground works could start in another six month’s time. This, of course, will ultimately be decided by the qualification of the main contractor,” said the Dubai Municipality director general.

Apart from the appraisal process for the tender, the supreme committee in charge of the Dubai Light Rail project is busy evaluating various related subprojects such as the sourcing of the rail engines and the cars that are to carry the passengers across the city of Dubai.

“The passenger rail system will run on the southern Arabian Peninsula for the first time. Early in the 20th century, the Hejaz network used to operate in the north. We are busy evaluating various options and equipment. We expected to very soon announce the name of the company and the country from which we will source the train engines and cars,’ said the municipality director general. Each train will be approximately 75 m long, consisting of five cars with numerous double doors. The train will also have extensive window panels providing views from the elevated sections. They will be driverless, fully automated, with a frequency that could see trains run as often as one every minute and a half.

“We needed to put in place a modern and up-to-date Intelligent Transportation Systems to cater for the rapidly burgeoning city of Dubai, which expects 15 million visitors by 2010,’ said Sultan.

Dubai has seen a major spurt of growth since the mid-1990s, and particularly since the establishment of projects such as the Dubai Media City and the Dubai Internet City, which have attracted large numbers of new global, regional and local entrepreneurs and their staff. The city’s built-up area has been further expanded with the opening of the property sector to 100% foreign freehold ownership in major waterfront projects, explained Nasser Saeed, chairman of Dubai Light Rail Project.

“Just ten years ago, Jebel Ali was considered far away by the residents and visitors of Dubai. Now residential mini-cities have sprung up deep into the desert and there is no more any place left up to the approach of Jebel Ali Free Zone,” he pointed out.

“With this kind of growth, we needed to put in place from now on an Intelligent Transportation System, that could cater to the influx of visitors and the thousands of residents and workers who live and commute daily between old Dubai and the new growth corridor extending up to and beyond Jebel Ali. The Dubai Light Rail Project was the answer,” explained Nasser Saeed.

Once in full operation, the Dubai Metro System is projected to carry some 1.2 million passengers on an average day, and 355 million passengers per year.

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