Dubai freezes metro expansion

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    The Dubai government is putting on hold plans to expand its $4.4 billion metro line network after property developers shelved multi-billion dollar projects in the once-booming Gulf emirate, a government official said on Monday.

    Dubai metro
    Dubai metro

    More than half of the construction projects in the United Arab Emirates, worth $582 billion, have been put on hold, Dubai-based market research firm Proleads said in February.

    Property developers in Dubai, one of the seven emirates in the UAE federation, have cancelled or delayed projects worth billons of dollars, as the global economic recession hit.

    “Other lines will depend now on the new situation of developers, because most of the developers have stopped their projects,” Abdul Redha Abu al-Hassan, director of rail planning and development department at the Roads and Transport Authority told reporters on the sidelines of a railways conference.

    “We don’t want a line which is serving no one.”

    Dubai’s first metro line is expected to start receiving passengers in September and the second line in March 2010, Hassan said.

    The two $4.4 billion metro line network will cover about 75 kilometres and carry about 200 million passengers per year. The two lines are part of plans for a 320-kilometre metro network to be completed by 2020.

    Dubai is expanding its public transport network to accommodate for its growing population, which is projected to almost double to 3.3 million by 2020 from 1.7 million in 2010, based on annual population growth of 7.3 percent.

    Every 1,000 people in Dubai have 541 cars, one of the world’s highest car usage rates, Hassan said.

    The government has introduced road tolls and plans to increase parking fees and introduce congestion prices among a slew of measures to limit private car usage in Dubai, he said.

    Only 6 percent of personal trips are made through public transport, which the government is seeking to raise to 30 percent by 2020, he added.

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