Is it a bird, is it a plane... it's Dubai Metro's Route 2020 station

The two underground station designs have been developed for integration with surrounding areas. (Supplied)

With the Dh10.6-billion Route 2020 contract awarded to the Expolink Consortium, Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority has unveiled new design renderings of the seven additional stations that will comprise this metro link to the Expo 2020 site.

The main Expo Station design has been inspired by the wings of an airplane, and the 15 trains that will transport visitors on Route 2020 will come equipped with an upgraded interior design to accommodate more passengers.

Emirates 24|7 tracks details of what Expo 2020 will mean for Dubai Metro users:

When does it start?

The 15km-long extension work will commence in the fourth quarter of 2016, with Mattar Al Tayer, the Director General and Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of the RTA confirming the trial runs would commence by Q4 2019.

Speaking to the media, Al Tayer said: "Construction works on the project would start in the final quarter of this year and the trial run is expected to start in the last quarter of 2019."

Al Tayer continued: "The official operation of the service is set to start ... on May 20, 2020, five months ahead of the opening of Expo 2020."

On the tracks of a plane

The Route 2020 new metro line, which will link the Red Line with the site of Expo 2020, will extend across 15km: 11.8km of viaduct and 3.2km of an underground track.

The project will have seven stations including one transfer station with the Red Line, three elevated stations, two underground stations, and the main Expo Station.

Abdul Mohsin Ibrahim, Rail Agency CEO with the RTA spoke about the design of the new stations, saying: "We have tried to maintain the inspiration of the current metro station in terms of design and facilities.

"But as you know, the design of the Expo 2020 station itself has been inspired by the wings of an airplane."

The RTA said the reason for this station design is its attribution as the greatest man-made invention, with the plane wing as a start point in the station design theme.

Interchange station

The other main station will be the Interchange, which will connect Nakheel Harbour and Tower station, with Ibrahim confirming the exterior design and architectural form of the building would be similar to the existing Dubai Metro stations to ensure the preservation of the identity of the existing stations on Sheikh Zayed Road.

The project consultant and contractor will have to develop and enhance the designs during the implementation phase.

Ibrahim continued: "We considered different options before deciding to build a new station next to the existing station where the branch takes off from existing red line. We will provide full integration of platform to facilitate passenger movement between the two stations when completed."

Quiz whether the upgrades would cause disruptions and he adds: "The only part that could be affected is the Nakheel Harbour and Tower station at certain time of day when construction of the extension happens between the current and the new line. But alternate services like buses will be provided."

Remaining stations

While the elevated stations will take the design from the existing metro stations, the two underground station designs have been developed for integration with surrounding areas. Design flexibility has also been taken into account to facilitate the movement and the transition between the spaces of the station, providing natural lighting and connecting with other modes of transportation.

Al Maktoum Airport extension

At the end of the Expo 2020 line will be another 6km extension to Dubai World Central's Al Maktoum International Airport.

Al Tayer confirmed the extension of Al Maktoum Airport line is currently waiting approval on Dubai Airports.

He said: "At a later stage, the 6km Al Maktoum Airport extension will also take shape, which is currently awaiting approval from Dubai Airports. The reason for this is because the internal master plan has not been finalised by Dubai Airports.

"But the 6km track is easy to build as a variation order. Unfortunately, we can't decide because the airport authority has asked for an extension of time to finalise its internal masterplan."

Autonomus transport

Rail Agency CEO Ibrahim said a study was currently underway to determine the need for an additional transportation network within the Expo 2020 site.

"This is under the study stage as the masterplan of the Expo is still on its final stage. There could be some transportation mode to serve people at the site. An autonomous vehicle could be one of them. An internal trolley or cable cars, small buses. All this would be determined before end of the year," he said.

Train interiors get a facelift

The capacity of Route 2020 is estimated as 46,000 riders per hour in both directions or 23,000 per direction, with ridership on ‎Route 2020 expected to reach 125,000 riders per day. The number will more than double to 275,000 per day by 2030.

Al Tayer said studies revealed 35,000 riders would use the Expo Station per day during weekdays and 47,000 on weekends. 

"Connectivity of stations with the Expo site will be designed to accommodate the high number of visitors during Expo 2020. Currently, the Dubai Metro trains can ferry 640 people at a time; with the rearrangement we would be able to take more people," added Ibrahim.

Dubai Metro has 79 trains currently, with an additional 50 trains to be procured as part of the new contract: 35 to upgrade current Dubai Metro service and 15 for Expo Service.

Fare and function

A fast track service to the Expo 2020 site could also be part of the operational plan, with the RTA confirming a schedule could be developed to perhaps have direct route access to the metro site.

"Something similar to what we have now in the early morning services from Rashidya to Jebel Ali, which only stops at 10 stations," said Ibrahim.

The RTA said Route 2020 has been designed in coordination with master developers on the route.

He continued: "While Discovery Gardens already has an existing network, developments such as Jumeirah Golf Estates have revisited its master plan and try to provide conectivity to the station within the transit development plan and we encourage all developers to do the same."

In terms of headway or frequency between trains on Route 2020, the maximum wait time would be 100 seconds. The operation of the headway will be decided as per the operation of the Expo site itself, the RTA stated, given the operation of number of stations operating at the time.

"In terms of fare structure, and policy of the fees will be applied similar to what we have," said Ibrahim.

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