Dubai Metro operator expects smooth Green-Line opening


By Elizabeth Broomhall

The CEO of the Dubai Metro operator Serco Group has said he is confident that problems encountered with the rail system’s Red Line will not reoccur when the Green Line opens this September.

Dubai Metro in operation. (Getty Images)
Dubai Metro in operation. (Getty Images)

In an interview with Arabian Business, Zafar Raja said the “minor” and “early snag issues” which ensued when the Red Line first opened had been dealt with, and the company was ready to open the second line later this year.

“We have been preparing ourselves for the Green Line for well over a year now and I am pleased to say that everything is on track,” he said.

“We learnt a lot from the first opening and we have taken those lessons into account in during project planning for the Green Line. We are very confident that all of those minor issues have been overcome.”

The main problems with the Red Line stemmed from a lack of public education on how to use the metro, and from the operation of automatic doors, he said.

“We anticipate it will be much easier [this time] as a vast amount of the public will have used the Red Line, so we expect [the issues] to be fairly negligible.”

The Green Line will be the second of the Dubai Metro lines to open following the launch of the Red Line on 9 September 2009.

Transporting as many as 1 million passengers in its first two weeks of operation, the Red Line proved extremely popular among Dubai residents as a cheap and effective means of getting from one end of the city to the other.

But despite its popularity, the Middle East’s first ever Metro encountered a string of problems in the wake of its opening.

As well as overcrowded stations, media reports cited frequent delays due to misuse of trains by passengers as well as signalling issues which forced the closure of some stations.

“One of the things we must realise is that when you operate a brand new system, it takes a number of years for that system to bed down,” said Raja.

“I think for the Dubai Metro we have achieved exceptional results. This is the best performing metro system in the world, and despite some of the early snag issues, everybody has done an exceptional job in keeping the metro performing at high levels.”

On completion, the Green Line will have as many as 18 stations spanning 22.5 km, and will cater for passengers living in the older areas of the city such as Deira and Bur Dubai.

According to Raja, the new line with have the same number of trains and the same three minute wait time as the Red Line.

He expects the total passenger count for both lines to increase from approximately 190,000 per day to at least 250,000 once the Green Line is fully operational, given its route through some of the most densely populated areas of Dubai.