On 9 September 2011, the UAE is braced to witness an exceptional event the first episode of which was celebrated on 09/09/2009. It will be day that puts Dubai firmly in a prominent global position; a day that witnesses the opening of the Metro Green Line, and marks the completion of the biggest vital project in the transport sector across the region, bringing in further unprecedented achievements.
On this day the two Red and Green lines of Dubai Metro will intersect at two locations; the first at the Union Station; which is the biggest underground metro station worldwide spanning an area of 25,000 square meters, and the second is Khalid bin Al Waleed Station; which is one of the most dazzling metro stations across the globe. Metro riders can transfer between the two lines through these two stations.
Today, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, will launch the official operation of the Dubai Metro Green Line; which stretches 23 km and comprises 18 stations in addition to the two transfer stations; Union and Khalid bin Al Waleed Stations intersecting with the Red Line.
All stations will be opened except Al Jadaf and Creek Stations as the property projects intended to be served by these two stations have yet to be completed, although both stations are ready for operation.
Mattar Al Tayer, Chairman of the Board and Executive Director of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), said: “The completion of the vital Dubai Metro project culminates the continual support and attention of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to uplift the infrastructure of Dubai Emirate, and epitomises RTA Strategic Plan, which is aligned with the Dubai Strategic Plan 2015 (Infrastructure Sector), aimed at providing integrated roads and transit systems ensuring smooth mobility and highest safety levels to all network users. The project completion is also a result of the persistent follow-up of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council, and Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai; who were the first to witness several constructional and operational works achieved throughout the Dubai Metro drive.
Stations to open
16 stations will be opened on the Green Line; namely Etisalat Station, situated at Al Qusais near Emirates Road; which is the starting point of the Green Line. The station is linked with a multi-level Park-and-Ride terminal with a capacity to house 2,350 vehicles as well as a bus station in order to encourage the public to use the Metro in traveling within Dubai Emirate. The design of the station provides sufficient space for public buses to feed the station and ensures a smooth flow of a large number of buses at a time. The parking lot is also fitted with air-conditioned footbridges linking with the other side of the Road, and all essential safety standards are in place to ensure smooth passenger movement within the facility.
Next comes Al Qusais Station, situated near the building of the Ministry of Education and the General Department of Dubai Civil Defence as well as Al Tawar Center; which is a hub for several Government services. Then comes the Airport Free Zone Station; which serves Terminal 2 of Dubai Airport and Dubai Airport Free Zone. The fourth is Al Nahda Station; which is adjacent to the building of the Ministry of Public Works and the Union Cooperative Society. The fifth is the Stadium Station near Al Ahli Club, and the sixth is Al Qiyadah Station on Al Ittihad Road near the Dubai Police General HQ. The seventh is Abu Hail station which serves a host of public schools, commercial centers and businesses, and the eighth is Abu Baker Al Siddique Station which is situated near Al Muraqqabat Police Station and serves several commercial centers, hotels and business outlets.
The Metro line moves then through an underground passage extending 8 km, starting with Salah Uddin Station; which is the ninth on the Green Line, following which the Green and Red Lines intersect at the Union station; which is considered the largest underground metro station in the world.
Spanning an area of 25,000 square meters with a capacity to handle about 22,000 passengers per hour. The station comprises two levels and measures 230 meters in length, 50 meters in width and 18 meters in depth. It accommodates business and service outlets for the metro riders and has two entry points fitted with elevators and escalators. Four tunnels branch out of the Union Square Station linking up with Baniyas Square and Salah Al Din Stations on the Green Line as well as Khalid bin Al Waleed and Al Rigga Stations on the Red Line.
The tenth station on the Green Line is Baniyas Square Station; which serves a densely populated and high business traffic area incorporating Naif Souk and a large number of hotels and business outlets. The eleventh is Palm Deira Station, followed by Al Ras and Al Ghubaiba Stations; which feature a typical UAE traditional architectural design.
The gist of the design concept revolves around employing the architectural traditional elements used in antique buildings, such as wind towers (Brajeel), oriels (Mashrabia), alleyways (Sukaik), internal arches and others through replicating them in an enhanced manner, while addressing the aesthetic and technical dimensions of those elements such that the heritage-inspired stations would look like a natural expansion of the traditional Souks in the locality, the Heritage and Diving Village, and the antique control towers dotting the locality. The entrances of the station at the ground level have been designed to match the traditional architectural setting of the area and integrate with the design of the Dubai Creek Shores Development Project; which has the same theme. The two stations serve heavily populated areas, trading outlets and banks visited by plenty of visitors.
The fourteenth station is Al Fahidi Station; which serves an area of high-density commercial enterprises comprising shops, hotels and banks and the two lines then converge at Khalid bin Al Waleed Station; which is one of the most stunning metro stations worldwide. The metro route then moves above the ground in an elevated track with the next stop being the fifteenth station of Oud Metha, nearby Al Nasr Club. The Station serves a variety of government entities such as Rashid Hospital, Dubai Media Inc, schools and resident communities clubs. The sixteenth station is Dubai Healthcare City; which will be the terminus station under the initial operational stage, and the station will mainly serve the hospitals of the Dubai Healthcare City, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, Wafi Center and hotels in the vicinity.
Al Tayer further added that RTA opted to hold the opening of Al Jadaf and Creek Stations, though being ready for operation, due to the non-completion of property projects to be served by these two stations and the lack of passengers to use these two stations for the time being, adding that RTA would consider opening them in the next stage.
He emphasised that the number of the metro riders will pick up considerably following the operation of the Green Line as it serves dynamic and high-density commercial, government and residential areas. He anticipated that the Green Line would be used over the remaining months of this year by about 100 thousand passengers every day. Al Tayer revealed that the total number of Dubai Metro riders from the start of operations on 09/09/2009 up to the end of last August clocked 84.2 million riders.
The Green Line of the Dubai Metro comprises a mega metro depot at Al Qusais and the facility, which is air-conditioned and fitted with an advanced firefighting system, and provides a parking space for the metro carriages to be maintained and cleaned. It also has a parking area with a capacity to house 60 trains at a time, and contains workshops for carrying out maintenance works, and dedicated workshops for washing and cleaning of train carriages as well as an administrative building for employees.
Technical run complete
The Operator of the Dubai Metro has completed the Technical Trial Run of the metro; which comprised two key phases. The first one is known as the ‘Static Test’ that involves placing a motionless car of the rolling stock on the track and performing tests covering communication systems, automatic train operation systems, power supply, air-conditioning, on-board electronics, and lighting systems in addition to integration and co-ordination tests between various sub-systems and components. On passing the first test, the Operator shifted to the second phase known as the “Dynamic Test” to a car without passengers on board. It involves tests of various systems while the train is in motion, including propulsion and brake tests, load tests, traction power tests, electromagnetic compatibility tests, automatic train operation tests, communication tests and speed tests.
On 12 August 2011, the RTA announced the launch of a monthly subscription service to Nol Blue Card, coinciding with the re-zoning of Dubai into 7 zones instead of 5 in view of the geographical expansion of districts served by Dubai Metro given the forthcoming operation of the Green Line, and the opening of new routes for public buses.
The monthly subscription to Nol Blue Card comprises three tiers tailored to cater to the needs of various public transport commuters. Subscription to the first tier, which costs Dh100, enables the subscriber mobility using various public transport modes (metro and buses) within one zone; subscription to the second tier, which costs Dh180, enables the subscriber mobility within two zones; and subscription to the third tier, which costs Dh270, enables the subscriber free mobility in all zones served by public transport means. The subscriber has to specify the area within which he or she intends to commute at the time of subscription in the first and second tiers only. However, it is possible for the subscriber to change the subscribed zone upon the expiry of the monthly subscription.
The monthly subscription to Nol Blue Card, which is restricted to Nol Blue cards, is the ideal option for commuters using public transport modes on regular basis. RTA has launched this service to encourage various community segments to uptake mass transit means through providing different types of Nol cards to serve the needs of various community spectrums.
The RTA confirmed that the Red Line of Dubai Metro has brought about a quality shift in the integration of mass transit modes in the Emirate as it formed the initial phase of a project considered the first of its kind across the region. This line proved to be absolutely important in inspiring the RTA personnel to vigorously proceed ahead with the completion of the second phase of the project represented by the Green Line.
The Dubai Metro Green Line covers the main business districts of the Emirate and is poised to bring about a substantial integration of mass transit modes as three key metro stations on this line (Etisalat, Al Ghubaiba and Abu Hail) are being fitted with parking spaces for vehicles and public buses; offering metro riders highly comfortable services and easy access to their intended destinations.
During the planning for the Metro Green Line, we worked with the dedicated work team comprising competent engineers of the Rail Agency towards developing an accurate and smooth mechanism for passenger transfer between the Green Line and Red Line platforms through providing them with all possible means ensuring their smooth mobility such as escalators and lifts. There will also be display monitors in the two stations to explain trains traffic in order to ensure a streamlined transfer to the intended destinations. Likewise the Red Line, the Green Line is being fitted with footbridges to ease passenger movement in all elevated stations such that train commuters can easily move between the bus stops and taxi ranks at both sides of roads.
Al Ghubaiba and Abu Hail stations have been selected to act as pivotal points in offering integrated mass transit modes as the three stations have excellent geographic locations that serve some vital areas in Dubai. Being located at Al Qusais, Etisalat Station is one of the key stations on the Green Line as it serves passengers hailing from Sharjah and neighbouring Emirates and for this reason a parking space has been provided to accommodate about 2350 vehicles for the time being with a capacity to raise the parking space to 6000 vehicles. The Park-and-Ride Terminal is also linked with the Bus Terminal by means of air-conditioned bridges in order to facilitate passengers mobility particularly under the climatic conditions of the country during summer which require integrated stations in all respects.
The other integration station, Abu Hail Station, is located at Hor Al Anz and features a modern structure that contributes to linking the bus station with the metro station through air-conditioned bridges. Similarly, Al Ghubaiba Station; which is an underground station, is a key integration point of mass transit means as it is linked with the bus terminal in the area as well as the marine transit station at the Creek side.
The Green Line meets the mobility requirements of individuals in various key parts of parts of Dubai Emirate as it in a vital route starting from Etisalat station with its important geographical location at Al Qusais on Al Nahda Street in a high population density area making it an attractive point to many commuters particularly those coming from Sharjah and other neighbouring Emirates.
The Operations Control Center (OCC) of the Dubai Metro, situated at the Metro Depot, Al Rashidiya, is the watchful eye of trains’ movement 24 hours a day in order to ensure the safety of commuters. The opening of the Green Line will surely add more burdens on the staff of the OCC in terms of monitoring and exercising total control of systems, stations and depot with a view to detecting ‘&’ rectifying any emergent failure and ensuring a highly efficient ‘&’ safe running of trains.
“The OCC comprises two sections; one dedicated to the Red Line and the other to the Green Line. About 20 fresh employees have been recruited to work on 3 shifts to track and monitor the Green Line particularly noting that each line has surveillance screens totally separated from the other. There are also two giant screens for both lines and overall there are 37 stand-alone screens for the Red Line and 28 stand-alone screens for the Green Line.
The OCC staff, who are deployed 24/7 attend to monitoring all aspects of the metro including the movement of the rolling stock as well as stations on both lines in order to detect any fault, even if minor, and respond promptly to provide an alternative service. They also attend to following-up maintenance works, and run a trial train, before the start of the actual service time, to ensure that the rail track is free from any objects.
The OCC features world-class specifications in terms of the unique design befitting its job nature, thus ensuring tranquility and full comfort to employees, particularly as the facility contains crucial systems that have to be monitored and closely watched by the OCC staff, including Automatic Trains Movement Control System; which is responsible for operating ‘&’ moving the trains, and ensuring a safe braking distance is always maintained between trains. The facility also harbours systems to monitor the station’s fire systems, cameras, lighting systems, lifts and others as well as environment monitoring systems; which are sensors fitted at stations to check the station’s temperature level.
The Center also has important communication systems through which the staff can communicate with the public and station staff by means of audio systems to offer them appropriate guidance in case of sudden change in trains movement.
The OCC consists of several sections contributing to the highly efficient operation of the Center, including CCTV cameras supervised by the Security Officer whose job is to watch cameras output and cope up with various security incidences at the stations.
Complaints and suggestions
In the event of indecent conduct, complaints, and comments from the public among others, the Officer will be keen to intervene directly and communicate with station masters to contain the situation in a proper manner, particularly noting that each station has a room for the station manager fitted with control systems of the station itself; which contribute to the accurate monitoring of the systems inside the stations, thus offering greater focus in the management ‘&’ control of the station in a detailed manner ensuring the safety of the public in particular and enabling follow-up of repair of systems and faults in general.
Inside Al Rashidiya Depot there are employees specialised in streamlining the movement of trains on the rail track, operating the line, increasing the number of trains during peak times, reducing the number of trains during off-peak times and terminating the rail service. Other staff are deployed to monitor trains movement along the rail track, and ensure the smooth movement of trains such that no delays are caused. In the event of any obstacle, immediate and direct action will be taken to sort out the problem. There is also a Manager for the OCC deployed in each shift who is directly responsible for ensuring the functionality of the Center and that appropriate decisions are taken.