A Dubai Metro train along Grand Hayat Hotel, Gharhood area in Dubai. Image Credit: JAVED NAWAB/Gulf News archives

Dubai: Dubai Metro will be extended for 14.5 kilometres, branching out from Nakheel Harbour and Tower station to the Expo 2020 site near Al Maktoum International Airport, the Roads and Transport Authority has announced.

The much anticipated extension of Dubai Metro’s Red Line has been approved by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and has been termed ‘Route 2020’.

Route 2020 will pass through several densely populated localities and industrial zones on its way to the Expo 2020 site, including Discovery Gardens, Dubai Investment Park, Furjan and Jumeirah Golf Estates.

With a major section of the new route running along Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Road, 10.5km of the extension will be elevated, while four kilometres will be underground. Of the seven stations, five will be elevated and two will be underground, while one more station will be built but will not be operational.

Shaikh Mohammad has directed starting the construction of the project immediately, with the tender for the construction of route to be issued in July and the project expected to be ready by 2018.

“The construction of the ‘Route 2020’ project conforms to the strategic vision of the Dubai Government for achieving sustainable development, and developing world-class infrastructure and services. It also comes as practical implementation of RTA’s Master Plan for providing multiple options of integrated mass transit means comprising the Metro, Tram, buses and water transport towards realising RTA’s vision of Safe and Smooth Transport for all,” said Mattar Al Tayer, Chairman of the Board and Executive Director of RTA.

The Route is also expected to connect with Etihad Rail which will pass through Al Maktoum International Airport.

“Route 2020 project will offer safe and smooth mobility to visitors of Expo 2020 and residents of the neighbourhoods as well. It stands out as a vital transit corridor linking various Dubai districts with Al Maktoum International Airport, an icon of new developments in the history of Dubai, and a symbol of sustainability, advancement and creativity for current and future generations,” he said.

The route passes through communities that are inhabited by about 240,000 people, connecting a major chunk of the city’s population directly with the mass transit system.

“The RTA examined different options for Route 2020 and assessed their effectiveness and impact on the surrounding neighbourhoods based on a host of technical perimeters that include the enhancement of the development plans in Dubai. It also serves the largest possible number of residents as well as current and future projects, easing snarls on some congested road sectors, providing top-class service to targeted communities, and integrating with public transit systems and roads network in the emirate,” said Al Tayer.

He added that the RTA has designed an integrated plan for infrastructure projects to serve Expo 2020, highlighted by the Route 2020 project.

“The plan is meant to achieve sustainability of the project and, accordingly, the path is planned to link the Expo site with a number of vital projects and locations in the area. In this regard, the RTA has coordinated with all developers and government entities in working out the proposed paths of the Metro to ensure that Route 2020 will support vital areas in the present and future.”

The new route will stretch the total network of Dubai Metro to 90km, while the entire rail network, including the Dubai Tram, will extend to 101km.

Currently, the Red Line journey time from Rashidiya to Jebel Ali is around 60 minutes. The new route will have an additional journey time of 16 minutes.

RTA is set to hold a workshop for consultants and contractors specialised in rail projects where it will exhibit various components of Route 2020 project before inviting tenders for the project.

Apart from Route 2020, two more extensions have been proposed, which are currently being studied. The proposals include a 3.5km extension from Rashidiya to Mirdif on the Red Line and a 20.6km extension on the Green Line from Jaddaf to Academic City, passing through Festival City, Ras Al Khor, International City, Silicon Oasis and Academic City.