By Eugene Harnan www.thenational.ae
DUBAI // The Metro will double its number of trains when seven new stations open next month, which transport official say will cut travel times for rush-hour commuters by almost half.
The number of trains on the Red Line will be increased to between 24 and 26 from 12 when the new stations are added to the system’s only operating line on April 25, said Ramadan Abdullah, who heads rail operations for the Roads and Transport Authority’s Rail Agency.
Maximum waiting times at stations should drop to six minutes from 10 minutes during rush hour, he said. During off-peak times, passengers will still have to wait 10 minutes between trains.
The seven stations that are opening are Emirates, Airport Terminal 1, GGICO, Al Karama, World Trade Centre, Marina and Ibn Battuta.
Commuters yesterday welcomed the prospect of spending less time waiting on platforms.
Chris Fernandez, 34, a supermarket manager from the Philippines, said: “If I do not have to to wait around on the platform for 10 minutes for another train, it is a good idea. Sometimes you miss the Metro because people on the escalators don’t get out of your way and you know the train is about to leave, or you can also miss a connecting bus by seconds.”
Rajesh Shah, 28, a shop assistant from India, said: “I will not have to wait around for long. In the evenings it’s good because the traffic on Sheikh Zayed Road will not affect the trains’ running times.”
Mr Abdullah also said trains would pause for less time to pick up passengers to help cut journey times, although he could not say by how much.
At present, trains wait for almost two minutes at stations such as Mall of the Emirates and Union while passengers board and disembark.
“We will reduce that to make the train operation more efficient,” Mr Abdullah said.
Shilpa Bharat, 24, a secretary from India, called the current two-minute waits annoying and said the move would probably save a few minutes for each journey.
The Metro’s operating times are also being reviewed, Mr Abdullah said. Currently, the service stops at midnight and does not begin until 2pm on Fridays.
“We are considering changing the opening times on Fridays and the midnight closing times. It will be all studied and we will see if the demand is there, which it all depends on. If people say we have to open, we’ll open,” Mr Abdullah said.
After the seven stations are operational, there will be only 11 left on the line to open. Construction on all 29 lines is expected to be completed by late April.
Figures provided by the RTA show that 10 million passengers used the Metro in its first five months.
The driverless train system celebrated its six-month anniversary this month, with many passengers praising it as a much-needed alternative to driving along Sheikh Zayed Road, which is often gridlocked during rush hours.
Once the second track, the Green Line, is completed in August next year, it will be world’s longest driverless metro system.
The combined cost of both lines has risen from Dh15.5 billion (US$4.2bn) to an estimated Dh28bn.