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Dubai sets 2014 launch for tram

Dubai's Dh4 billion Al Sufouh Tram project in Jumeirah is set to open in late 2014, transport officials said.

Dubai's Dh4 billion (US$1.08bn) Al Sufouh Tram project in Jumeirah is set to open in late 2014, rather than in April next year as originally planned, transport officials said yesterday. The Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) is working to resolve funding issues on the 14km tramway, said Abdul al Hassan, the director of rail planning and development at the RTA.

The agency is also negotiating with the project's contractors, Mr al Hassan said. That group includes Alstom of France, Besix of Belgium and Parsons of the US. "Because of the recession we had to replan and reschedule. This is true for all projects in Dubai, not only transportation," he said. " we are negotiating funding for the rest of the project." The RTA is working to settle accounts with planners, engineers, consultants and contractors across the emirate, after embarking on a wide-ranging transport plan during the economic boom, when Dubai's roads became clogged with traffic.

Mr al Hassan's comments come a day after the Dubai Government revealed in a bond prospectus, published by the London Stock Exchange, that it had reached agreement on a new payment schedule worth Dh9.6bn with the Dubai Rail Link Consortium (DURL), a group of companies building the Dubai Metro. They included the Japanese companies Obayashi, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Mitsubishi Corporation and Kajima.

The prospectus revealed the DURL consortium has been paid about Dh20bn, with Dh9.6bn left for work on the Red and Green lines, which will span more than 70km and 47 stations when complete. Under the repayment plans agreed with the DURL, Dh3.77bn will be paid by the RTA in monthly instalments of about Dh169 million starting in May and extending until September next year. The balance of Dh5.82bn will be paid in equal monthly instalments over seven years, with a guarantee provided by the Dubai Government.

The Al Sufouh tram, which is designed to run from the Dubai Marina to the Mall of the Emirates, will have 11 Alstom trains and airconditioned stations. It will be driven by a ground-level power supply, compared with conventional trams that rely on overhead electrical wires. The tram line was initially due for completion next April, but the new target is the end of 2014. Key aspects of the project are now 40 per cent complete while a viaduct was 60 per cent complete, Mr al Hassan said.

Vincent Prou, the Dubai general manager of Alstom, said his company was ready to adapt to meet its customer's wishes. "The RTA is committed to this project, which is the most important thing for us," Mr Prou said. 

igale@thenational.ae

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