Sharjah will start building a rail network – including a Metro line, tram networks and monorails – in 2015 to encourage public transport and boost its economy, a senior official has said.
The network will eventually be linked to Dubai Metro, which would have built four lines by 2015.
“We have completed preliminary studies that point to a dire need for a rail network to cope with the growing problem of traffic congestion in Sharjah,” Naseer Mahfood, head of the road planning and transportation section at the Sharjah Directorate of Town Planning Survey, told Business 24|7 on the sidelines of the Gulf Traffic 2007 Conference.
A recent comprehensive public transport study by Sharjah Transport found the emirate urgently needed to pursue a major expansion of infrastructure to accommodate the increasing residents.
The current road network – 670km of major roads and 800km of minor roads – is too small to handle the increasing number of vehicles on roads, the study found.
“We have set 2015 as the year to begin the implementation of the rail network in the emirate. But we are yet to work out the specifications of the project such as the routes, number of trains and cost,” said Mahfood.
The pressure for transport solutions is on as the current population of 700,000 people in Sharjah is expected to grow to 1.4 million in 2025. However, some analysts feel the number will be higher as more people in Dubai seek cheaper accommodation in the neighbouring emirate. Early next year, Sharjah will start running an internal bus service, initially covering seven routes. The number of routes will be increased to 28 by the end of the year, with 131 buses to carry more than 80,000 passengers daily.
The emirate is also looking to acquiring more customer-friendly taxis and increasing the number of stations.
As a key link between Dubai and the Northern Emirates, Sharjah unveiled a Dh2.1bn road infrastructure development plan last year, which will see a series of interchanges, tunnels and road expansions implemented over the next few years to reduce traffic bottlenecks.