Whatever happened to the Palm Monorail?

Time for a re-think of the $400m project, says Anil Bhoyrul
Whatever happened to the Palm Monorail?
By Anil Bhoyrul
Tue 13 Jan 2015 12:38 PM

Sometimes, things just don’t work out as planned. But they don’t usually cost $400 million. Can anyone tell me whatever happened to the Palm Monorail? Does anyone know anyone who has actually ever been on it?

This 5.45km stretch of the Middle East’s first ever monorail opened on April 30, 2009, and was widely lauded as this fabulous way of connecting the Palm Jumeriah to the mainland. There were going to be 4 stations – Atlantis Aquaventure, Trump Plaza, Trump Tower and Gateway. It could carry 40,000 passengers a day with trains running every few minutes during peak hours – and of course connecting with the Dubai Metro.

So nearly eight years since the grand opening, what state is it in today? The Trump Tower station doesn’t exist because the tower was scrapped. It has been renamed Al Ittihad Park – but that station is not open. Trump Plaza has been renamed Palm Mall, except the mall hasn’t been built – so no station.  In other words, you can only go from Atlantis at one end to Gateway at the other end. This will cost you AED15 ($4) one way, AED25 return. More expensive than a cab.

Not surprisingly, there have not been many takers. The trains are running almost empty, bar a few tourists. Only one or two trains operate, reportedly only every 23 minutes.

I don’t want to sound too negative about a project that is technically brilliant, but let’s be honest, this isn’t exactly a success is it?

Surely it’s time for some urgent re-thinking. Such as knocking the whole thing down (given what there still must be a high running and maintenance cost) and building a cable car from one end of the Palm to the other. And charging AED1 a ride.

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