PLANS TO develop a network of light rail lines in Dubai were unveiled by the Chairman of the emirate's Roads & Traffic Authority Mattar Mohammed Al-Tayer at the Metro Rail conference in Roma on March 29.

With Dubai's population expected to reach 5·25 million by 2020, RTA is forecasting that total daily travel demand will rise from 5·1 to 21·9 million trips. To alleviate growing road congestion, Al-Tayer said Dubai would invest US$6·3bn on its automated metro network and US$2·5bn on light rail routes over the next 10 to 12 years.

Two metro routes totalling 75 km are currently under construction (RG 9.06 p493), and boring of the Green Line tunnels under Dubai Creek is scheduled to start this month. The Red and Green lines are on course to open by 2009, and planning for the Blue and Purple lines is already well advanced. Al-Tayer said further extensions would eventually bring the four-line metro network to 318 route-km.

According to the CEO of RTA's Rail Agency Abdelmajid Al-Khaja, the seven light rail routes totalling 268 km are envisaged as local feeders to the metro, which would remain the backbone of the rail network. The first routes to be built would link stations on the Red Line with hotel and office developments along the coast west of the city centre. Tenders for design and construction of these lines could be awarded by the end of 2008, he said.