Dubai: Work has begun on Dubai's first tram project on Al Sufouh Road, said a senior official at the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA).

"Work on the first phase of the Al Sufouh Tram project is progressing according to the schedule and the consortium of the French Alstom, the Belgian Besix, the American Parsons and the French Sistra companies, which have been awarded the contract, will start diversions of utilities in preparation for commencing construction works," said Mattar Al Tayer, Chairman of the Board and Executive Director of the RTA.

Some 9.5 kilometres of the Al Sufouh Tram project will be built as part of the first phase at the cost of Dh3.18 billion.

The first phase is scheduled to open to passengers on April 11, 2011. The project will have 13 stations and a depot and will have multimodal interchange stations to connect the tram with the Red Line of the Metro on Shaikh Zayed Road, which is set to open on September 9 this year. The stations will be near Mall of the Emirates, Dubai Marina and Jumeirah Lake Towers.

The tram will pass through Dubai Marina and Jumeirah Beach residence, Dubai Media City, Knowledge Village, Madinat Jumeirah, Mall of the Emirates and Burj Al Arab as well as other projects under planning such as Jumeirah Hills.

The Sufouh Tram also links up with the Monorail of the Palm Jumeirah at the entrance of the Palm from Sufouh Road to facilitate passengers in the Palm.

"The tram will not only be an effective solution to ease the traffic congestion but will add as a major tourist attraction in the city," said Al Tayer. The total length of the tram track will be 14.5 km and it will have total of 19 stations.

"The aim of the tram project is to encourage people in the upmarket areas to use an alternative mode of transport instead of private cars," noted Al Tayer. Al Tayer said that the project would serve about half a million people in the area, which has witnessed massive growth during the last few years.

"Demographic surveys, population density estimates and manpower distribution along the tram path revealed that those areas will be inhabited by about 180,000 residents, 210,000 people working in offices and 20,000 visitors per day. The tram project will help us control traffic congestion in such a high concentration area," he said

The tram track extends at the grade level along Al Sufouh Road but rises in an elevated section across certain areas of Dubai Marina.

The trains will comprise First Class (Golden Suite), and a carriage dedicated to women and children in addition to a silver carriage.