His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, approved Dubai's rail network expansion plan including connections to the proposed Etihad Rail network.
Covering an area of 421km with 197 stations, the expansion of the existing network and new rail routes and infrastructure are expected to be completed by 2030 in three phases.
According to Chairman and Executive Director of Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) Mattar Al Tayer, three new Metro lines - Blue, Gold and Purple - and a Jumeirah tram route will be up and running by 2030.
Additionally, the current Red and Green lines will grow longer and will serve a growing population in the densely populated urban areas of Dubai.
30% of the residents in the emirate are expected to use public transport once the expansion plan of rail routes is completed.
Time schedules for the proposed lines, or stretches of them, have been set, as well as the estimated costs for executing the massive projects. "The general blueprint of the train network is in three phases - 2020, 2025 and 2030 - keeping in mind planned urban growth in the Emirate," said Al Tayer.
RTA planners estimate Dubai's population to exceed 3.1 million by 2020. In the first phase, train projects along a 24.1-km long corridor with 12 stations will be completed. The Green Line will cover Jaddaf to Dubai Academic City with 11 stations, a distance of 20.6km. Once the first phase of the extension work is complete, Dubai's train network will have 109km over 70 stations.
Work on the second phase covering 91km and 58 stations will cost an estimated Dh45 billion.
Dubai's urban population is likely to swell to 4.1 million by 2025 and work on the Gold, Jumeirah tram and the Purple lines are set to commence then. "When phase two is complete, the overall train network is likely to be 200km long with 128 stations," he added.
An assessment of the completed projects will be made in 2030 and depending on the success of the infrastructure upgrades and passenger response, work on the final phase will begin. "So if Dubai's population crosses six million, we may add another 221km of lines with 69 stations. This will extend the entire network to 421km with 197 stations," Al Tayer said.
Infrastructure upgrades on the network have been planned keeping in mind the Expo 2020 which the UAE is bidding to host. "Several alternatives have been studied to link the proposed site for the Expo to the under-construction Al Maktoum Airport in Jebel Ali. The Red line is expected to serve this stretch," the RTA chairman said.
Efforts are also being made to connect the Dubai Metro system with Etihad Rail, which will run for 1,200km in the UAE. The railway will connect the country to Saudi Arabia via Ghweifat in the West and Oman via Al Ain in the East. Three proposed stations - Al Maktoum Airport Station, Dubai Land Station and the Central Station - will serve as hubs for connections to the wider Etihad Rail network.
Al Maktoum Airport Station will be situated east of Al Maktoum Airport on the Etihad Rail route, with the Blue lines linking up with projects east of the Dubai Bypass Road. The Dubai Land Station, west of Meydan, will be on the Gold line.