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The Dubai Metro - a very successful infrastructure project

William Wallace

Faculty Blog

I was teaching in Dubai again recently and I took the opportunity to ride on the Dubai Metro system. It is an example of a very successful transport infrastructure project. Construction began in 2006 and the first (red) line was completed in 2008 with the second (green) line following in 2010. The current system includes 49 stations of which nine are underground. There are two interchange stations where the lines cross. The system operates 87 fully automated driverless trains that run at set intervals throughout the day with increased frequencies at peak times. You can read more about the system here.

Anyone who has taken a ride on the Dubai Metro will tell you that the trains are always full. The system seems to run at permanent capacity or near-capacity all the time. Many people see it as a very convenient and attractive way of travelling as it is cheap, clean, safe and reliable. It also provides an attractive alternative to the traffic congestion that is a current and increasing concern in Dubai.

Despite the current high volume of use the authorities want to attract even more people onto the Metro in an attempt to raise public awareness of the benefits of public transport. An example is the forthcoming Public Transport Day on 01 November 2014 where users can win prizes including a 4Kg gold ingot every day for a week. At the time of writing gold was trading at about USD 40,000 per Kg so that is some raffle prize. You can read more about the promotion here.

Promotions like this are likely to drive up usage even further. The main problem with the Dubai metro, however, is that it has clearly reached capacity and now requires expansion. There is huge demand for metro services and a strong political and public will to address the traffic congestion issue. It all adds up to a clear case for a series of future projects for the development of the network.