Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 21 August 2019

Dubai going full speed ahead with high-tech suspended-rail plan

Dubai Roads and Transport Authority has announced plans for a congestion-cutting suspended transport system

Dubai Roads and Transport Authority is working with skyTran to bring a suspended-rail transport system to the emirate. Courtesy skyTran
Dubai Roads and Transport Authority is working with skyTran to bring a suspended-rail transport system to the emirate. Courtesy skyTran

Dubai Roads and Transport Authority is aiming to help the emirate rise above traffic congestion – after unveiling a new high-speed rail system that will soar over the ground.

The transport authority has signed an agreement with skyTran, a global company leading plans for a hi-tech suspended transport system.

The technology – which the company aims to make a reality in 2020 – involves autonomous, zero-emission vehicles with a cruising speed of 160kph, travelling on tracks suspended high above the busy streets.

The company claims the transport system can accommodate more travellers than a typical six-lane motorway.

SkyTran said it expects to move forward on its first commercial project next year.

The forward-thinking company already has two test facilities, one in California in partnership with Nasa and another in Tel Aviv, with a third being built in Texas.

Abdul Younes, chief executive of the RTA’s rail agency, said the agreement was a milestone moment for the authority.

“The signing of this [agreement] highlights RTA’s continuous efforts to team with global specialist firms in developing advanced public transport technologies capable of attracting more riders by offering them safe, fast and luxurious transit experiences, besides curbing traffic congestion in the city,” Mr Younes said.

“The signing of this [agreement] with a leading company in the field of suspended transport systems, such as skyTran, is a milestone in RTA’s efforts to introduce advanced technologies and innovative services in the field of public transport.

Abdul Younes, right, CEO of RTA's rail agency, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with John Cole, CEO of skyTran. Courtesy RTA    
Abdul Younes, right, CEO of RTA's rail agency, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with John Cole, CEO of skyTran. Courtesy RTA    

“It will enhance the integration of public transport systems, which in turn will boost economic growth, attract more investments and improve the standard of living in Dubai.”

John Cole, chief executive of skyTran, said he was excited to be part of Dubai’s ambitious transport strategy.

“We are excited to sign this [agreement] with RTA and play an active role in realising RTA’s ambitious projects and initiatives in the field of public transport,” Mr Cole said.

The partnership is just the latest effort by the RTA to develop new technologies to improve the emirate’s transport infrastructure.

In April, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai and chairman of Dubai Executive Council, issued a directive to regulate testing of self-driving vehicles in the emirate.

The council resolution was part of the first phase of a legislative framework being created to ensure the vehicles are safe to use on the road.

The resolution will give Dubai’s RTA the responsibility to ensure safety standards are met during testing.

The RTA will also be responsible for providing licenses to operators and making sure they comply with regulations.

The Dubai Autonomous Transportation Strategy sets out to ensure 25 per cent of all vehicles on the road are autonomous by 2030.

The hi-tech initiative aims to bring in Dh22 billion to the Dubai economy every year and reduce transport costs by 44 per cent, resulting in estimated savings of up to Dh900 million.

Updated: June 10, 2019 02:53 PM

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