Dubai : Government will spend Dh12.5 billion more than originally forecast to build the Red and Green lines of the new Dubai Metro, confirmed senior traffic officials Sunday in a press conference.
Mattar Al Tayer, Chairman and Executive Director of the Roads and Transportation Authority, told a throng of reporters at new RTA headquarters that the final budget for the metro's two lines should top out at around Dh28 billion – excluding the proposed Purple Line.
The original budget before work began four years ago to build the longest driverless light rapid rail transit system in the world in Dubai was estimated at Dh15.5 billion.
Al Tayer said the extra costs were willingly undertaken and not viewed as a cost overrun.
The added expenditures were necessary, he said, because “we wanted the metro to be number one'' and that required major additions and extensions to the metro.
He said that “investing in infrastructure is not a waste.''
Al Tayer gave four reasons for the budget increase noting that the Green Line was extended on Nahda Road by 4.5 kilometres as well as at Jadaf by a further three-plus kilometres. Extra stations were also needed on the newly extended Green Line, said Al Tayer, considerably bumping up the final costs.
Other contributing factors included redesigns of the metro infrastructure station interiors and exteriors and changes to the design of new footbridges, Al Tayer said.
At the press conference, Al Tayer confirmed that the RTA is expecting far less than maximum crowds on opening day of September 9, 2009, noting that places such as Singapore witnessed only 25 per cent capacity when it opened its new metro line.
The RTA has said that it is preparing to operate the metro at only 50 per cent capacity in the first few months.
“Dubai Metro service is set to run at 10 minutes headway at a rate of six trains per hour with an intake of 3,858 passengers per hour per direction,'' Al Tayer told reporters.
He noted that the number of trains could be bumped up to 11 initially.
Ten stations to open
As for the metro itself, Al Tayer confirmed earlier exclusive reports by XPRESS last week that only 10 of 29 stations on the Metro's Red Line will open on September 9.
“Some stations are not operated, despite being ready long ago as the property projects to be served by such stations have yet to be completed,'' Al Tayer said, “which obviously means no passenger demand is foreseen for the time being. An example of this is the Jebel Ali Station.''
He confirmed the following stations will open on September 9: Rashidiya, Airport Terminal 3; City Centre, Rigga, Union Square, Khalid bin Al Waleed (formerly known as Burjuman Station) Jafliah, Financial Centre, Emirates Mall and Nakheel Harbour and Tower Stations.
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The 10 stations were opened for various reasons, he said, including population density, availability of connective services, the location of nearby government agencies, links with buses and the technical readiness of each station.
Union Station will open on September 9, for example, because it is near Dubai Municipality as well as other critical government services such as the Dubai Land Department, Real Estate Regulatory Authority, as well as the Dubai Chamber of Commerce.
Airport Terminal 3 will open to accommodate thousands of air travel passengers and Jafliah Station will open as well to host hundreds of daily visitors to the Department of Naturalisation and Residency Dubai (DNRD) and adjacent Bur Dubai Police Station.
No official opening time
Al Tayer told reporters, meanwhile, that they will have to wait for an RTA announcement regarding the official hour that the new Dubai Metro will open on September 9.
He declined reporter queries for the actual hour noting that it will be decided later.
Al Tayer did note that a press conference would be held soon after the opening on September 9 to accommodate media coverage, especially international journalists covering the event.
While he wouldn't give actual times, the general train schedule for the metro was released on Sunday.
Taking the holy month of Ramadan into account for the opening, Al Tayer said that the metro will open for service at 6am and run until 12 midnight from Saturday to Thursday. On Friday, the metro will run for a shorter length of time from 2pm to 12 midnight.
When Ramadan ends, the Dubai Metro will resume normal working hours and start service from 6am and run through to 11pm. On Fridays, the Dubai Metro will run from 2pm to 12 midnight.
Other stations open in 2010
Most, if not all, of the remaining stations 29 stations on the Red Line should be open and completely operational by February 2010, one month before the Green Line is set to officially open, Al Tayer said.
The other stations will not be opened next year one by one, he said, rather the RTA and system operators Serco will prefer to open the stations in groups at a time because of operational issues.
Al Tayer said it was better to keep some stations closed for now until the entire system is brought on when it is ready to avoid delays for passengers using the system for the first time.
“We don't want so many bugs in the system…that is if it is broken down and delayed. We have to make sure whatever system we are going to operate is efficient and the best ever,'' he said.