By Essam Al Ghalib www.thenational.ae
DUBAI // Two years to the day after becoming the Gulf region’s first mass-transit rail system, the Dubai Metro has opened its second line.
The Green Line, which covers 22.5 kilometres and 20 stations, was inaugurated yesterday afternoon by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
Eighteen stations on the new line will be open to the public this morning, with two more due to open soon.
The line runs on a route that will start at Dubai Creek when the two other stations are open, through areas including Al Ras, Abu Hail and Al Qusais.
It terminates at Etisalat Station in Al Twar district near Emirates Road.
The Green Line takes the entire length of the driverless, remote-controlled system to about 75km.
“Since then [opening] and until August 2011, the Metro carried 84.2 million people,” said Mattar Al Tayer, the chief executive of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA).
Mr Al Tayer said the Green Line would serve an average of about 100,000 passengers a day by the end of the year.
Just after 5pm yesterday, Sheikh Mohammed boarded a Green Line train at the Dubai Healthcare City Station near Wafi Mall on a journey to Etisalat Station.
Joined by many dignitaries, VIP guests and members of the national and international media, Sheikh Mohammed frequently left the train to tour the Al Ghubaiba, and Salah Al Din stations.
As a helicopter hovered over the train, residents could be seen waving UAE flags and banners that said “Thank You” from their flats as the train rolled past. When he disembarked at Al Ghubaiba Station near Dubai Creek and Heritage Village, Sheikh Mohammed paused to take in the architectural surroundings, saying “Jamila, jamila”, meaning “beautiful, beautiful”.
The Sheikh, accompanied by Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid and Dubai Deputy Ruler Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid, also toured the Baniyas Square station near Naif Souq.
As the Sheikh left the station he was greeted by an enthusiastic crowd that included dozens of taxi drivers.
Soon after the train ended its journey, Mr Al Tayer said at Etisalat Station that the Metro was “a national project completed by the international community”.
He highlighted the work of the thousands of people who worked on the rail system, many of whom toiled underground to drill the tunnels.
“I want to thank all those who have exuded superhuman efforts in digging tunnels underground in 50 degrees,” Mr Al Tayer said.
“Thousands of workers from all over the world worked together to build the Metro and each one deserves our thanks.”
The Red and Green lines can carry a total of up to 1 million passengers a day and were built at a combined cost of Dh29.5 billion, which the RTA hopes to recoup over the next 40 to 50 years. The lines merge at the Khalid Bin Al Waleed and Union stations.
Adnan Al Hammadi, the head of the rail networks at the RTA, said the organisation would now turn its attention to delivering the Al Sufouh Tram service that runs along Al Sufouh Road and serves the Dubai Marina area.
The project is set to be completed in November of 2014 and aims to serve about 3,000 passengers a day.
Plans to build the Metro Purple and Blue lines are on hold but are likely to be revived as the Al Maktoum International Airport nears completion.
“Studies are always being conducted to see what the demand is,” Mr Al Hammadi said.
“The Blue and Purple lines are part of the future infrastructure and as Al Maktoum Airport nears completion, implementing further Metro lines may be a possibility.
“There is no need for these lines over the next five or six years.”
The RTA is hoping that with the opening of the Green Line and the future opening of the Al Sufouh Tram, the market share of public transport users will rise to 30 per cent per cent.
Mr Al Tayer said that between 11 and 12 per cent of that 30 per cent will be carried by the Metro, 6 to 9 per cent by bus, and the remainder by taxis and marine transport.