April launch for seven Metro stops


By Eugene Harnan  www.thenational.ae

Dubai // Seven of the remaining 18 incomplete Metro stations will open on April 25, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) announced yesterday.

Al Karama station, one of seven that will be ready for Dubai Metro passengers in April. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
Al Karama station, one of seven that will be ready for Dubai Metro passengers in April. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

By then, construction will be complete on all 29 stations on the Red Line. However, of the near-finished stations, only Emirates, Airport Terminal 1, GGICO, Al Karama, World Trade Centre, Marina and Ibn Battuta will be ready for passengers.

The completion of the Green Line has been pushed back to August next year, the RTA said.

Mattar al Tayer, the chairman of the board and executive director of the RTA, said the stations not due to open in April would become operational in “the following months of 2010”. The Red Line launched with 10 stations last September after it was announced that not all the stations would be ready for the launch date.

Mr al Tayer said the seven stations to open in April were picked based on the high number of residents, commercial activities and nearby government services in those areas. The way the stations integrate with the public transport network was also a key factor.

Mr al Tayer said alterations to the Metro network and their associated costs would be funded from the RTA’s budget allocation from the Government of Dubai.

Changes include the Green Line’s 5km extension from Dubai Healthcare City to al Jaddaf and the addition of extra stations, such as the one at Mall of the Emirates, which were not in the original blueprint.

“The RTA will provide the biggest portion of cash injections out of its budget to cover the cost of the additional works on the Red and Green Lines, add new stations to meet the needs of property development projects, add a depot to accommodate the resultant increase in the capacity and increase the number of footbridges linking with the Metro stations,” said Mr al Tayer.

“The remaining portion of additional works’ cost will be funded through the project contractor.”

The cost of the Red and Green lines will have risen from Dh15.5 billion (US$4.2bn) to an estimated Dh28bn by the time the two tracks are complete next year.

A senior engineer close to the Red Line’s construction, who did not want to be named, said one member of the Japanese-led consortium building the lines stopped work for four weeks in January.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Mitsubishi Corporation, Obayashi Corporation, Kajima Corporation and the Turkish firm Yap Merkezi make up the consortium.

“Engineers from Obayashi stopped working on January 14 so all construction stopped,” said the engineer. The engineers have since returned to work. The Green Line, with 18 stations, was first scheduled to be open next month. It will run around Dubai Creek, through Deira and Bur Dubai.

Commuters will eventually be able to change between the Red and Green lines at the Union Square and Khalid bin al Waleed stations.

Sunil Amit, 34, an accountant from India who lives in Karama, said the line might help alleviate the congested parking around his building.

“A lot of people come here to do business or go shopping who might park somewhere else and take the Metro down,” he said.

Mr Amit said he might use the Metro to visit friends who live in Dubai Marina. “Maybe at the weekends I’ll use it, but during the week I need my car,” he said.

Ashish Patel, 25, a shop assistant who works in Karama, said the opening of the station would bring more business.

“It will bring in more people, I think. I have a lot of customers who say they either can’t find parking or don’t know their way around Karama. We have been waiting for the station to open to help this.”