By Tom Arnold
Island developer reveals trials will start in October for $400mn Dubai transport system.
Testing is set to start in October on the $400 million Palm Jumeirah Monorail, which will transport thousands of visitors around the manmade island each day when it opens.
Island developer Nakheel said on Thursday it would soon be taking delivery of the first monorail vehicles from Japan ahead of a meticulous six-month testing period of the system, the first monorail to be constructed in the Middle East.
All of the 5.45km track has been laid ready for the arrival of the vehicles, which are undergoing final inspection at the base of manufacturer Hitachi Ltd, famous for Japan’s high speed Bullet trains.
A joint inspection between the Roads & Transport Authority (RTA) and operators SMRTE will then be carried out once the vehicles arrive in Dubai.
Staff from Nakheel travelled to Dubai’s twin city of Osaka to receive technical advice and training from the Japanese city’s monorail team as part of a technical agreement signed in December 2006.
Construction work on the double track system began in March 2006 and was completed in July this year.
Once connected to the Dubai Metro following the introduction of RTA’s Al Sufouh tramline, tourists will be able to leave Dubai Airport on the metro and continue through to Palm Jumeirah, where they change over to the monorail system and move onwards to their hotel.
Robert Lee, Nakheel managing director, investment projects, said the monorail was setting global standards for the transportation industry.
He said: “We have employed state-of-the-art technology to overcome a number of challenges, whether that is running 1,000m of rail over-sea, meeting Dubai's unique climatic conditions, or protecting the communities of Palm Jumeirah by utilising a virtually silent track system.”
He added: “The RTA is working closely with the Office of British Rail for the Palm Monorail’s inspection, and eventually certification, process."
Developed by a consortium of leading international companies led by the Marubeni Corporation, the monorail is fully automatic and driverless, although an attendant will be on board at all times.
It will initially carry up to 2,400 passengers per hour per direction in four separate trains, each made up of three cars. At full capacity, the figure will rise to a maximum of 6,000 people in nine vehicles.
As revealed by Arabian Business last month, the monorail’s opening has been pushed back four months to April 2009 to allow for safety testing.