Case Study: Dubai Metro and Tram – Independent Safety Assessment

Dubai Metro and Tram – Independent Safety Assessment

An Integrated Transport System for Dubai

Ricardo has a long and established history of providing technical support during the development of an integrated transport network for Dubai and its surrounding region.

In 2006 we were appointed to be the Independent Safety Assessor for the construction of the city’s new metro – the first urban rail transit system to ever be constructed on the Arabian Peninsula –  starting with the Red Line before fulfilling the same role for the second route to enter into service, the Green Line.

dubai metro safety assessment

A State-Of-The-Art Driverless Metro System for Dubai

As the Independent Safety Assessor of both lines, our responsibility was to assure the safety of passengers, staff and the public through safety audits of:

  • Design, manufacture, installation, testing and safety documentation for the engineering systems.
  • The safety procedures and preparations of the operator once services had commenced.

To meet these wide-ranging objectives, our assessors were given full access to all aspects of the project’s construction , with the freedom to perform independent risk-based assessments through  mix of  site inspections, documentation reviews and stakeholder review forums.

With ambient temperatures ranging from +1°C to +52°C, winds of sand and dust that can reach speeds of 160km/h and a corrosive atmosphere containing high levels of salt, the city and its surrounding environs presented one of the most hostile environments in which such systems have been built, meaning a greater emphasis than ever was placed on ensuring the highest standards of safety throughout the construction and operating plans.

The first section of the Red Line opened to passenger service in September 2009 with the full 29 station route completed in 2010. The first 18 stations of the Green Line opened in 2011, with an additional two stations following three years later.

Combined, the two lines extend for 75km across a mix of underground and elevated sections with both routes operating as fully automated driverless systems (GoA4)  with air conditioned cars and platform screen doors at every station.

By 2019,  after a decade in operation, the lines were carrying more than 200m passenger journeys a year with a punctuality rate of 99.69%, believed to be the highest rate of any driverless metro in the world.

dubai metro safety assessment
Dubai Metro

Dubai Tram: Towards an Integrated Network

For areas of the city not directly served by the new metro lines the Dubai Roads & Transport Authority also planned a network of ‘feeder’ services to its stations.

The Dubai Tram is a 14km light rail scheme that operates from the Dubai Marina district and connects with two of the Red Line stations.

In 2009, whilst still supporting the construction of the Metro Lines, our Dubai team were appointed to provide similar safety oversight for the development of the new tramway.

Our role was to provide an objective, independent view that the entire systems – including rolling stock, signalling, communications, power supply and civil structures – was being developed to its specifications and would meet the appropriate safety and RAM performance standards.

Being a street level system, a key risk arises through its integration with the city’s busy road traffic network: although it is segregated by fencing for the majority of its route,  it passes through 30 traffic junctions and crossings, including 24 signalised intersections, sharing road space with motorists, pedestrians and cyclists.

Opening for public service in 2014, the Dubai Tram is one of the most modern of its kind in the world. It was one of the first to be powered not by overhead catenary but by a ground-based electric supply (activated when the tram is directly above the rail) and it is also is unique for using platform screen doors at each station.

In its first five years of operation the system has carried an average of 5.5m passenger journeys  a year, with plans to  create two new station interchanges with the Red Line to further integrate the system into a city-wider transport network.

This article was originally published by Ricardo Rail.

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