Dubai Metro: Birth pangs

    1073  XPRESS  

    Dubai : Dubai Metro will be launched on September 9 with a scaled-down operation, following differences between the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) and Metro operator Serco over the train system’s overall readiness ahead of the rollout, XPRESS has learnt.

    © XPRESS/Shankha Kar Spotlight: The Financial Centre station getting ready for the opening.
    © XPRESS/Shankha Kar Spotlight: The Financial Centre station getting ready for the opening.

    Sources said only 10 stations out of the 29 planned on the Red Line will be operational on the much-publicised inauguration date.

    Stations that will be operational at the opening day include Rashidiya, Dubai Airport Terminal 3, City Centre, Rigga Road, Union Square, BurJuman, Jaffliya, Financial Centre, Mall of the Emirates and Jumeirah Islands.

    Detailed queries sent to the RTA and Serco on these issues elicited no response.

    To date, only four stations are fully functional, with just one station handed over to Serco, a British company. The remaining stations are expected to be handed over on August 26, two weeks before the official launch.

    Handover blues

    Delays in the handover of stations to Serco have also been complicated by the pressure to make the complex Dh15.5 billion system work together by September 9, one of the most awaited dates in Dubai’s calendar this year.

    Each station must undergo a third-party safety certification process before the builder hands it over to operators.

    Early this year, Serco made a presentation before Dubai Government expressing its reservations about the entire Red Line being ready by September 9. However, they were told to proceed with the launch with a limited operation.

    Sources said a free ride for the public is also being contemplated since the full system is not ready.

    On Wednesday, however, the RTA announced that the sale of “Nol” cards that can be used on Metro, public buses and water buses, will start from August 20. The cards will, however, be functional only from September 9.

    Meanwhile, reports of the scaled-down operation emerged after a series of glitches were discovered during trial runs.
    On Tuesday, engineers resolved a major glitch involving the train and platform doors that were out of sync, causing failures in test-runs for the past several weeks, sources said.

    The train doors and platform shutters are operated from a central control room by a software that has been changed weeks before the official launch, sources said.

    Closed train platforms ensure that passengers stay cool during summer and may reduce the likelihood of people falling or jumping on to the tracks.

    Back-up control room

    The main central control room in Rashidiya won’t be fully ready on September 9 and the back-up control room in Jebel Ali will be used to run the trains on the inauguration day, sources said.

    Senior RTA and Serco officials are expected to take a call on Saturday, August 22, on the scale of Metro operations on the launch date, sources said.

    Meanwhile, the systems that have undergone and passed tests include emergency braking, wayside obstacle detection system (which protects the Metro from intrusion by vehicles and other objects) and derailment containment system and automatic train protection (ATP) system (which alerts and stops a train if a train ahead breaks down on the track).

    Train attendants are also currently being trained to handle critical situations and rowdy passengers.