Dubai Metro phasing out 'annoying' train music


By Eugene Harnan

DUBAI // Metro chiefs have admitted they were on the wrong tracks with their choice of music.

Dubai metro
Dubai metro

Passengers driven mad by the repetitive, electronic tune they have been forced to listen to – or at least block out with their iPods – have made their feelings known, and it seems their complaints have not fallen on deaf ears.

The Roads and Transport Authority said yesterday they were now looking to “phase out” the hypnotic, tinny melody piped into the metro’s carriages. The annoying ditty has already vanished from some trains, bringing relief to passengers on the Red Line.

“When we spoke to the public, a lot of people said it was annoying music,” said Peyman Younes Parham, the RTA’s director of marketing and corporate communications.

“At the end of the day, everybody has a different requirement. Some would love to hear music on the metro to soothe them. There are other people who are on their way home from work and don’t want to hear anything. We are potentially phasing out the current one-tone track and will look at other options.”

Passengers aboard the world’s largest driverless train system yesterday reacted with delight to the news.

Carlos Vega, 26, an engineer from Spain, said: “It was very annoying. I’ve never heard a tune like it on public transport. On Madrid’s metro, there was no music. It is great if they are getting rid of it. I used to hear it all the time and now I hardly hear it. I thought I was getting used to it and didn’t notice it but I also started to bring my iPod with me too. I wonder what they will replace it with.”

Marcella Fernandez, 24, from the Philippines, said: “I remember it a long time ago, when it launched. It sounded like a really annoying ring tone and I’m glad I don’t hear it any more. I don’t mind music in the malls or shops because you have a choice to be there. On the metro, it is hard to block it out if you have no music of your own to listen to.”

Gary Fernandez, 26, from the Phillippines, was so appalled by the tune that he opted for headphones long ago. “I heard it when I first started using the metro but now I listen to [my own] music,” he said.

The National reported in February that the RTA’s monotonous soundtrack was driving commuters crazy. Some found it so unbearable they were even considering alternative transport options.

Dr Raymond Hamden, a clinical psychologist based at the Human Relations Institute in Dubai, said at the time that constant exposure to monotonous soundtracks could lead to antisocial behaviour.

He said research had found that such music could make listeners “very irritated, agitated, sometimes to the point of being aggressive and violent”.

Not all passengers were singing the same tune yesterday. Hammad Menon, 28, a stockbroker from Pakistan, said: “It wasn’t annoying. If they change it, so what? It is not going to affect people using the metro or stop them from using it.”

Meanwhile, testing is under way on new trains which will become operational when seven new metro stations open on the Red Line this month.