Dubai: Al Sufouh Tram, which will begin operations in Dubai late next year, will have the right of way, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has announced as it began planning operational details in a bid to increase the tempo of progress in the much-awaited project.
In the first phase of the project, which stretches for 10.6 kilometres between Dubai Marina and Al Sufouh, the tram movement overlaps with vehicular traffic at several junctions and RTA has now begun to work with Dubai Police to streamline safe and smooth movement of trams as well as vehicles.
In a recent meeting with Dubai Police, which was attended by high-ranking officials from both sides, including Lt Gen Dahi Khalfan Tamim, Commander-in-Chief of the Dubai Police, and Mattar Al Tayer, RTA Chairman of the Board and Executive Director, issues such as managing the overlapping of tram and vehicular traffic particularly at signalised junctions, as well as allocation of various tasks and responsibilities between RTA and the Dubai Police were discussed.
The draft legislation regarding the tram system operation in Dubai was also tabled.
Among the decisions taken during the meeting is to give right of way to trams at points where vehicular traffic and tramways intersect.
“The two parties agreed to give priority to the tram movement at the intersection points under normal conditions, however, the priority will be given to police, ambulance and civil defence vehicles during emergency situations,” Al Tayer said, revealing details of the operation plan.
With around 65 per cent of work on the project already completed and trial runs on the tramway scheduled from January 2014, RTA is trying to make sure all safety aspects are in place.
Al Tayer said that the tests will continue until the cut-off date for the start of the tram service in November 2014.
Preparing for the trials, RTA has submitted a motion for the tram system to the Legal Department of the Dubai Government, and will sign during the forthcoming months memoranda of understanding with all entities concerned with the tram operation.
“We are keen on making sure all elements of safety of all road users, be it pedestrians, tram or vehicular traffic are addressed before we begin the trial runs and actual operations,” he added.
To ensure pedestrian safety, a fence is being set up to segregate the movement of tram and pedestrians throughout the tramway, and signalised crossings are being provided near all tram stations.
As part of the project, six footbridges are being provided, including four new bridges to be constructed at certain stations.
“Ample waiting areas are being provided at both roadsides. Pedestrian crossings have been designed in a way addressing safety aspects featuring state-of-the-art technical specifications, and pedestrian cross points over the tramway are being marked with a variety of alert lights,” explained Al Tayer.
The first set of trams – totalling 11 – will arrive in December and before the trials begin on the 10.6km tramway that will be served by 11 stations, RTA is ensuring everything is in order and all movements are streamlined.
“Dubai Police will be responsible for streamlining traffic movement and safety on roads and trams. Police will issue tickets to vehicles obstructing the tram movement, handle accidents impacting the movement of trams to ensure the service back to normal in the least possible time, investigate accidents, and manage the traffic movement at the impacted intersections as quickly as possible,” stated Al Tayer.
Ensuring smooth movement of vehicles, pavements have been designed to be elevated to fend off vehicles access or crossing into the tramway as per the approved specifications.
“Protective rail will be set up around all tram stations. Due to the importance of junctions where the tram movement intersects with the vehicular traffic, they have been designed in a manner such that they will be elevated to match the tramway, and barriers are being set up to fend off vehicles’ access through the openings provided within the intersections,” Al Tayer said, elaborating on the clear demarcation of vehicle and tram movement.
RTA and Dubai Police will launch a joint awareness campaign well in advance of the trial operation of the tram to introduce the tram to the public along with the mechanism of managing the traffic at the intersection points, besides cautioning road users against stopping on the tram track in case of minor accidents.
Once the tram begins operations, traffic congestion which is currently seen in areas like Dubai Marin and Jumeirah Beach Residence, is expected to ease.