By Gavin Gibbon
Tram will travel on a loop from Al Sufouh up to Dubai Marina, around the development and back again, on a track that runs 10.6km
An official opening of the Dubai Tram will take place today ahead of the launch to the general public tomorrow (Wednesday).
Phase one of the AED3.7 billion ($1 billion) project was built by a consortium including Besix, Alstom, Serco and Parsons.
The 10.6km-long route stretches along Al Sufouh Road and consists of 11 stations – JBR 1, JBR 2, JLT, Dubai Marina Mall, Dubai Marina, Marina Towers, Mina Siyahi, Dubai Media City, The Palm Jumeirah, Knowledge Village and Safouh.
Footbridges were constructed to link Dubai Tram and Dubai Metro at two stations - Damac Properties and JLT. The tramway also intersects with the monorail of the Palm Jumeirah at the entrance of the Palm, Safouh Street where a multi-level parking lot is in place at this station to serve tram and monorail users.
Each tram has a capacity to accommodate up to 405 passengers in seven carriages comprising gold, woman and children and silver cabins. Unlike the metro, however, the gold and women and children sections are at either ends of the tram.
It is the first tram outside of Europe that will run entirely on an underground power source, through the tracks with no overhead cables. The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) said it is also the first tram system in the world to be equipped with platform screen doors and boast air-conditioned stations.
Earlier this week, the RTA unveiled the opening hours of the Dubai Tram, which will run from 6.30am to 1.30am from Saturday to Thursday; and 9am to 1.30am on a Friday.
There will be a 10-minute interval between trams during peak time and 12 minutes during off-peak. While an operator will be on board at all times. And a journey around the entire route will take 42 minutes.
Abdulla Yousef Al Ali, CEO of RTA Rail Agency, said: “Fixing the tram service hours was geared towards meeting the needs of the public and responding to their daily transit patterns, particularly as the tram serves densely populated areas, offering commuter service from and to places of work, besides serving tourist attractions in the Emirate thus appeals to a whole host of community segments.”
The maximum speed of the trams will be 50km/h and Al Ali expects the tram to attract 27,000 passengers per day in 2015 and 66,000 in 2020.
The NOL card is the only fare payment means and there are three fare tiers travel within the seven public transit zones.
The first tier covers traveling over one or two zones, provided the distance covered is not more than 3km and the fare is fixed at AED3 for a single trip. The second tier covers traveling over two zones at a fare fixed at AED5, and the third tier covers travelling across all zones and the fare is fixed as AED7.5 per a single trip.
The tenders for phase two of the AED3.7 billion ($1 billion) Dubai Tram project will be released in November 2015, exactly one year after the service begins operations.
At Construction Week’s annual Building and Infrastructure conference earlier this year, Al Ali, told delegates that phase two will add another 5km of track and six stations to the existing tram network, stretching to the Burj Al Arab and Mall of the Emirates before 2020.
As for phase three, Al Ali said this will extend along Jumeirah Beach Road and 2nd December Street before 2025.
“We are going to tender phases two and three for new contractors and even new consultants,” said Al Ali. “Phase two will be one year after finishing phase one.”
In response to a question about whether the network would have enough car parking facilities for users, Al Ali said the RTA will provide parking near each station. He added that the network would also link with the Palm Jumeirah monorail, where there is a multi-storey car park.
“We’ve tried our best to provide parking areas near each station. It won’t be many but they will be free for users of the tram.”
Al Ali said safety along the network was paramount and that the RTA and Dubai Police have provided some 10 to 15 extra safety features. He noted there will be barriers on both sides of the tram, the intersections are elevated from the road level and controlled by traffic signals. There are also warning sounds to alert pedestrians.
In addition to the tram, he said the RTA was exploring other modes of transport in the Zabeel and Burj Khalifa areas such as a people mover system or a monorail.
“We have not decided which mode we are going with, but we are studying those areas,” he said.