Friday, August 22, 2008

Dubai hits Red Line milestone for metro

Original Article

Dubai’s eagerly awaited Dh15.5 billion (US$4.2bn) driverless metro project has reached a milestone ahead of schedule after round-the-clock work for three years by 25,000 people.

A senior project official said yesterday the 52km Red Line viaduct, which stretches the length of Sheikh Zayed Road between Al Rashidiya and Jebel Ali, was now complete.

“This is a hugely important milestone in the construction of the metro,” said Paul Anderson, a project director with Serco, the company that will operate Dubai Metro.

“This means you could walk the entire length of it from one end to the other without coming across any gaps. Work on it finished last week, three days ahead of schedule,” he said.

Mr Anderson said completion of the viaduct on target for the September 2009 opening was a significant achievement by everyone involved.

“They’ve done exceptionally well – 52km of viaduct and tunnel in that space of time, under those kind of conditions, is an amazing feat, and to the best of my knowledge unparalleled anywhere else in the world,” he said. “Despite working in such a tight time frame, the quality of the product is exceptional.”

The Red Line will carry an estimated 27,000 passengers per hour in each direction on 42 trains, stopping at Burj Dubai, Internet City and Jebel Ali among other stations.

Work on the Red Line began in August 2005. Since then, about 25,000 workers, from engineers to labourers, have toiled day and night to stay ahead of the four-year deadline.

Heavy-duty equipment, including 10 giant launching gantries, were used to install the viaduct spans.

Most of the work on the Red Line, particularly on the stations, has been carried out in some of Dubai’s most congested commuter locations, making it difficult to transport materials such as steel and concrete to the sites. Increases in the costs of construction materials have also created problems, as project directors fought to keep within budget.

The last of 1,300 spans – the tall, concrete structures that support the viaduct – had been placed and the track was now ready to be laid, Mr Anderson said.

“Now that’s complete, the next stage will be to lay the track and fit out the stations, so people will start to see a lot more activity going on along that stretch.”

Adnan al Hammadi, the Roads and Transport Authority’s (RTA) director of construction, rail projects, said: “This milestone would have not been possible without the diligence and support of the construction team on the rail project.”

Once complete, the 75km Dubai Metro will become the largest light railway system to be built in one phase. Work started on the 22km Green Line, which will link Al Qusais to Dubai Healthcare City, in 2006 and is scheduled for completion in March 2010.

The Red Line and Green Line will be built from 1,800 viaduct spans, using 267,000 cubic metres of concrete.

The metro is the most ambitious part of the RTA’s integrated mass transport system, which it hopes will ease the emirate’s notorious traffic problems by encouraging people not to use their cars. Recent figures indicate the estimated cost of traffic congestion to Dubai’s economy is Dh4.6bn per year.

According to RTA research, public transport is used for only five per cent of trips. The authority’s challenge is to increase this to between 30 and 35 per cent by 2020 by enhancing bus services, adding the metro lines and increasing the availability of marine transport.

Dubai has the highest rate of car ownership of any city in the world – with one car for every 1.84 residents, giving an average vehicle occupancy rate of 1.7.

After the metro’s Red Line and Green Line are in place, the RTA’s Rail Agency will start construction on the Purple Line and Blue Line. The 49km Purple Line will run the length of Al Khail Road to connect Dubai International Airport with Al Maktoum Airport in Jebel Ali.

The Blue Line, which will initially be 50km, will link Dubai International Airport to Jebel Ali Airport, passing through Emirates Road.

The Rail Agency intends to build a total of 318km of metro lines and 270km of tram lines by 2020.

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