UPDATE 1-Dubai metro costs soar as launch deadline looms

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    By Amena Bakr   http://in.reuters.com

    DUBAI, Aug 30 (Reuters) – Dubai’s metro rail project will cost 28 billion dirhams ($7.62 billion), or 80 percent more than originally planned, officials said on Sunday, as the emirate races to complete the high-profile work on Sept. 9.

    The government has positioned the massive project as central to its progressive image in the Middle East and continued to invest in it even as the economic crisis battered Dubai’s real estate market and sent tens of thousands of workers home.

    “The project is on track and the reason the budget has been increased is because we decided to extend the metro line by 4.5 kilometres, add stations and improve the interior design,” Mattar al Tayer, chairman of Dubai’s Roads & Transport Authority, told a news conference.

    The project was financed through the Dubai government with revenue generated by the RTA, said Tayer. “We did not take any loans and the financing for this project is there and guaranteed.”

    In February, Dubai sold $10 billion of bonds to the United Arab Emirates central bank to raise funds to support state-linked companies suffering from the crisis and investing in the emirate’s infrastructure. It plans to issue another $10 billion of bonds later this year.

    “During a time of crisis, investing in infrastructure is the key that will drive the economy and help attract foreign investments will the world recovers,” said Tayer.

    On Sept. 9, the first segment of the light intra-city rail known as the Red Line will be open to the public, and 10 stations out of 29 stations will be operational.

    “The reason we didn’t open all the stations is because many of the sites are still real estate construction zones and it would not make logistical sense to open them,” he said.

    More stations will be opened in clusters by February next year, he said.

    During the first stage of the project, 11 out of 60 trains will be operational and the numbers of passengers are expected to reach 3,500 per hour, he added. (Reporting by Amena Bakr; Editing by Jon Boyle)