Plans for a tram service stretching 14km along Al Sufouh Road and linking the Madinat Jumeirah, the Mall of the Emirates, Dubai Marina and Jumeirah Beach Residence have been approved by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
The Dh4-billion network will have 19 stations serving business and residential districts. Al Sufouh Tram Project is intended to meet the demand arising from Dubai's population growth while enhancing the emirate's image as a modern hub.
"The project is part of a master plan to provide mass transit systems up to 2020 including metro, tram, bus, and marine lines," said Mattar Al Tayer (pictured above), Chairman of the Board and Executive Director of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA).
"The tramline will have interchanges with Dubai Metro's Red Line at three stations along Sheikh Zayed Road by means of pedestrian crossings, enabling smooth passenger movement between the two systems. The trams will also interlink with the Palm Jumeirah monorail at the entry point of the Palm at Al Sufouh Road to ease the movement of commuters."
Al Tayer said a number of leading global firms specialising in metro and tram design took part in an international tender to select a company to implement the project.
"The contract was awarded to a consortium consisting of France's Alstom, Belgium's Besix, Britain's Serco, and the US's Parsons, which will undertake the detailed design work. The French firm Systra will act as the RTA's consultant on the project.
"The project will serve residential and commercial areas in Al Sufouh, Dubai Marina and Jumeirah Beach Residences. During the last few years these areas have witnessed high-class urban development covering the residential, commercial and tourist fields, including iconic structures such as Mall of the Emirates, the Madinat Jumeirah and the Burj Al Arab hotel.
"The route also covers areas of specific importance such as Knowledge Village, Dubai Media City and Dubai Internet City as well as other projects under construction in Dubai Marina and projects in the planning phase such as Jumeirah Hills. Demographic surveys, population density estimates and manpower distribution along the tram path revealed those areas are inhabited by about 180,000 residents, 210,000 workers and 20,000 visitors.
"Population density coupled with the vital nature of activities in the area highlight the importance of having a tram network in place as a first step that will be followed with a series of similar transit systems across densely populated areas of the emirate in the future."
Al Tayer said the inland path of the tram would be mainly at ground level on Al Sufouh Road. The track will rise across some flyovers in Dubai Marina. The tram path stretches in parallel line with the Dubai Metro Red Line along part of Sheikh Zayed Road near Dubai Marina, where tram-Metro links will be established.
"The project will adopt the latest technologies, particularly in the design of cars and the power supply. The system is fully compatible with the urban environment and civil structures in the area," said Al Tayer.
"The stations have been designed to the highest standards to ensure optimum operational performance and added aesthetic values to existing urban structures."
Each tram train will be 44m long with a total capacity of 300 passengers. The fleet will comprise 11 trains in phase one and another 14 trains will be added in phase two. There will be first-class Golden Suite coaches and ones allocated specially to women and children as well as Silver Class sections.
The interiors of both cars and stations will be finished to deluxe standards and the trams will be fitted with the latest broadcasting and display technology.
"The trams will not require overhead electrical cables as they will be supplied with electricity through a safe and modern ground cable system and all the stations will be air-conditioned.
"The tram network will be the first in the world to use platform screen doors fully aligned with the train's doors opening and closing mechanism. This will provide extra comfort, safety and security for passengers and at the same time maintain the efficient air conditioning of stations and cars.
"The passenger platforms will measure 44m and will be equipped with automatic ticket vending machines."