The second phase of a Dh4.5 billion light rail project for some of Dubai’s most congested areas has been postponed, according to a senior official.
Abdul Redha abu al Hassan, director of planning and development at the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), said yesterday that the second phase of the Al Sufouh tram system had been delayed to allow completion of a future road project.
“It is being done in two phases. This [second] phase is being postponed because there will be a big integrated road project of tunnels and bridges. We have postponed it until that project is finished,” said Mr al Hassan, who was speaking at the Urban Transportation 2009 conference in Abu Dhabi.
Announcing the project a year ago, the RTA said both phases of the tram’s construction would be complete by April 2011.
Mr al Hassan said phase one would be ready by then as planned, but did not say how long the delay in phase two would be.
The second phase is intended to service the Burj Al Arab and the Jumeirah Beach Hotel and will stretch five kilometres with six stations.
The nine-kilometre first phase will service Dubai Marina, both Media and Internet Cities and the Al Sufouh area, and is expected to carry 200,000 residents and workers daily in each direction. It will consist of 13 stations with platforms 44 metres long.
The tram will link up with the Red Line of the Dubai Metro at three points on Sheikh Zayed Road, and with the monorail on Palm Jumeirah where it meets Al Sufouh Road.
The first phase’s lines are being built by the ABS consortium composed of the European companies Alstom, Besix and Serco.
The trams will operate for 20 hours a day and run at 25kph, giving residents easy access to shopping and essential services available at the Mall of Emirates and in Dubai Marina.
The RTA estimates that once both phases are complete, 25 trams will be able to carry 5,200 passengers in each direction every hour.
Each tram will be able to hold up to 300 passengers and will be divided into a luxurious Golden Class, a slightly cheaper Silver Class, and have a separate carriage for women and children.
It will also have a unique system at road junctions. “When the tram approaches a junction, the light will automatically turn green for the tram and red for the traffic,” said Mr al Hassan.
The tram system is part of the RTA’s drive to increase the number of Dubai residents using public transport. Currently, seven per cent of the 1.5 million residents of the emirate use public transport, but by 2020 the RTA expects that to increase to 30 per cent of a projected population of 3.3 million.
Meanwhile officials from the RTA said the authority was in the process of closing a loophole that allowed motorists from outside Dubai to avoid “Salik” road toll charges.
Owners of Dubai-registered vehicles are subject to a Dh100 fine if they do not have a Salik tag.
Each time they pass one of the four gates it costs Dh4, up to a daily maximum of Dh24. Having insufficient funds in the paying account incurs a Dh50 penalty.
At the moment, motorists owning vehicles registered outside Dubai who do not have a Salik tag displayed are exempt from the levy and fines when they reregister their cars.
To close the loophole, the RTA said in a statement yesterday that it was in the process of creating what it called a “unified e-link” with the Ministry of Interior.
A spokesman said the discussions were exploring the possibility of backdating the charges for previous violators.
A similar mechanism already exists to ensure motorists reregistering vehicles outside Dubai are required to pay parking fines and speeding tickets they have picked up there.
The RTA statement said: “The meeting discussed several options and suggestions to complete the e-link between the RTA e-Traffic System with the Federal Traffic System. The two parties agreed to assign a consultant to review the suggested options and submit a report on the best solutions to achieve the e-link.”
Gen Saif al Shaafar, undersecretary of the Ministry of Interior, said it was a strategic project. The unified e-link would see the RTA’s database of Salik offenders added to a central database, which would hold details of motoring fines across all seven emirates.
As part of the proposed system, the RTA will send details of offending motorists electronically to the ministry, which will recover the fines on the behalf of the RTA.
“The ministry is seeking to finalise this vital project as early as possible,” said Mr al Shaafar.
Eugene Harnan, April 28. 2009 12:27AM UAE , www.thenational.ae