Monday, May 30, 2005

Dubai Metro

Yeehaa! GoD (Government of Dubai) has announced the winner of the tender phase for building the Dubai Metro system. AND THE WINNER IS a consortium led by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Their bid was Dhs 12.45 billion. The other 3 bidders were very close, with bids between 18.26 and 19.29 billions dirhams. Which is a bit worrying.

When I was involved in the construction industry, prevailing wisdom said that you should never accept the lowest bid. With such a big disparity between the lowest and the rest, my instinct tells me that Mitsubishi are in the shite and are doing this purely for turnover. I have no doubt that they can deliver the project, if the parent company lasts the distance. Completion is scheduled for 2009.

Enough cynicism, this is a magnificent and desperately-needed addition to Dubai's infrastructure. We are going to get two lines, a shortish one that runs from Dubai Airport, almost up to Al Ras, under the Creek to Shindagha, and on down to Dubai HealthCare City. The other line runs from near Jebel Ali Free Zone, all the way into Old Dubai, under the Creek, and ends up in Rashidiya. No doubt the project will grow as these first two phases are built. There will be a need for a line parallel to Emirates Road, to service Dubailand, the Meadows, The Autodrome, Sports City and all of that stuff. And there has been talk of a separate, bonded cargo corridor between Dubai International Airport and Jebel Ali Airport Planet. (This bonded corridor could be a combination of road and rail, but what it means is that both airports are considered as one airside space where anything in that space is not actually in the UAE but is in a tax-free area.)

The driverless trains will carry up to 500 people, and will run at intervals of between 90 and 180 seconds, according to the time of day.

The majority of the track will be elevated, with underground sections in the city centre. This will be the making of Dubai, and no mistake.