UAE: Dubai’s Roads & Transport Authority signed a contract with Serco on September 16 for the commissioning and operation of the emirate’s first light rail line.

Valued at 105m dinar, the 75-month contract provides 15 months for preparation, including staff recruitment and training, plus five years of operations. A clause provides for Serco to transfer the workforce to RTA, or any other operator on the expiry of the contract.

As project contractor, the Alstom-Besix consortium will maintain the infrastructure and rolling stock for 13 years, with an optional five-year extension.

The operating agreement was signed by RTA Chairman & Executive Director Mattar Al Tayer and David Campbell, Serco’s CEO for Africa, Middle East, Asia & Australia. Al Tayer said Serco has been selected following a tender which attracted ‘a bunch of world-class companies specialised in rail operation & maintenance’. The company has been operating the Dubai metro network since the opening of the Red Line in September 2009.

Running at ground level along Al Sufouh Road and passing through the Dubai Marina district on an elevated viaduct, the tram line will connect with the metro at Dubai Marina and Jumeirah Lakes Towers. It will also connect with the Palm Jumeirah monorail. The line will eventually total 14·6 km and 17 stations, of which the first phase covers 10·6 km and 11 stations. This will run from Dubai Marina to the depot near the Dubai Police Academy. RTA says the line will be the first tram route in the world to be equipped with full platform screen doors, permitting the cars and stops to be fully air-conditioned.

Equipped with an APS ground-level power supply, the line is to be worked by a fleet of 25 Alstom Citadis low-floor cars, of which 11 will be needed for the first phase. The 44 m long cars will carry up to 300 passengers, in both first and silver class, with a separate section designated for women and children. The first cars are now on test France, with deliveries scheduled to begin in December.

Revenue services are expected to start in November 2014, with the line initially carrying 27 000 passengers/day. RTA anticipates that this will increase to around 66 000 passengers/day by 2020.

Al Tayer confirmed that Serco would ‘offer transit services to users at high-class standards’, and ensure ‘full co-ordination and integration between the tram, metro and various transit means’, including the acceptance of Nol smart cards.