Dubai Metro riders carried off in delight


By Carol Huang

The throngs of joy-riders and the just plain curious have been keen to put trains on the Dubai Metro’s new Green Line through their paces. They were there again yesterday … which is a bit peculiar, considering it was supposed to be a work day. Carol Huang reports

Dubai Metro
Dubai Metro

DUBAI // Radha Krishnan travelled the entire length of the newly opened Green Line twice yesterday, with no destination in mind.

“It’s just to see,” said Mr Krishnan, 55, a salesman from India who was there with two friends.

The new Metro route was in operation for its first work day yesterday – its second day of operations overall – but many passengers were taking it just for fun.

One snapped pictures of the rooftops below and several children pointed out of the windows as the carriages hummed along, pausing briefly at each stop.

Commuters also got on; apparently more as the evening rush hour hit, although exact figures from the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) were not available.

Many more passengers are expected to board as they become accustomed to this new option for travel. It is projected that in the next few months more than 100,000 people will take the Green Line each day.

The route cuts through some of the most congested parts of Dubai, along both sides of the Creek.

It begins at one end around Healthcare City, shoots west through Bur Dubai, nearly reaching the coast, then winds back east through Deira and just past the northern side of the airport.

Eighteen of 20 stops have opened, including two transfer stations to the Red Line, which has been running since 2009.

The other two stations on the Green Line, both at its southern end, will open when the areas around them become more developed, the RTA says.

For now, many passengers are feeling out the stops that are open, learning what points of interest lie nearby – and what exactly the stations are called.

A few had trouble remembering the names of Abu Baker Al Siddique and Salah Al Din stations.

Ali Al Saeed Al Balushi, 45, an Omani visiting Dubai with his son, said he had forgotten the name of the station at which he stopped before turning around – Dubai Healthcare City.

“Medical something,” Mr Al Balushi said.

Alan Grimes, 41, a British resident who works in events management, said he wished the list of landmarks posted at each station could also be available inside the train so he could know more about each stop before he got off.

Mr Grimes had ridden with a friend to the end of the Green Line and back, getting out at times to look around.

At smaller stops in the afternoon, sometimes nobody got on. At some stations, Metro employees working the afternoon shift said they had not seen huge crowds.

More passengers embarked at larger stations, especially at Khalid bin Al Waleed and Union stations, which connect to the Red Line.

The RTA says Union Station is the world’s largest underground metro station, at 25,000 square metres, and can handle up to 22,000 passengers an hour.

Three other stations – Al Ghubaiba in Bur Dubai, Abu Hail in Deira and Etisalat, at the end of the line – are also expected to take in large crowds.

During peak hours 14 trains will run, up from 10 during quieter times. The “headway”, or time between trains, will be between six and eight minutes.

The Etisalat station includes a car park with 2,350 spaces, which will be expanded to 6,000, to accommodate commuters from Sharjah who can park free for up to a day.

But as of late yesterday afternoon, only a few dozen cars, mostly with Dubai licence plates, were using the garage.

Maintenance workers were here and there, putting final touches on the fire system and other pipes, and an escalator.

Rana Loacco, 36, a chef from the Philippines, got off at the station then reboarded, waiting for the train to head back.

It was Mr Loacco’s day off and he had come across town to test it out.

“Just in case,” he said.