x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

You left Dh40,000 on a train? Thanks to staff, all is not lost

Almost six million people travel on Dubai Metro in a month. Some are bound to leave something behind. But the central lost-property office has a good strike record for reuniting passengers and property.

DUBAI // A reassuring picture of workers devoted to returning lost property would hardly be the first to come to mind when you have just left Dh40,000 on a train.

So it would have been with a great sense of dread that a man arrived at Dubai Metro's Khalid bin Al Waleed station after leaving a wallet full of foreign currency to that value.

But there it was, at the Metro's central lost-and-found department, on that nerve-racking afternoon last year.

"He came back fairly quickly to claim it," says Maribeth Pevea, one of the lead station managers.

"Once I found a brand new iPhone in its original packaging and the owner was quick to notice it gone."

With almost six million passengers travelling on Dubai Metro every month, it is inevitable some things will be left behind.

Usually, it is a wallet or some shopping. Once, someone forgot a pram.

"It would have been more unusual if there was a baby inside it," says Ms Pevea.

Rhoda May de la Cruz, another lead station manager, says the most unusual item she has come across was a Spinneys shopping trolley.

"Every day we receive Nol cards [prepaid ticket smartcards], sunglasses and wallets," Ms de la Cruz says.

Dawood Barham, the customer-service team leader at Serco, the Metro's operator, says most people are eventually reunited with their lost items.

Under Serco's lost-property system, when an item is found in a train or station, staff send an email with its details to the other 46 stations on the Red and Green lines.

All valuable items handed in are stored in a vault at Khalid bin Al Waleed station. If not claimed by the end of service that day, an item is sent to Khalid bin Al Waleed station, where it is held for a week.

After that, the items go to the lost-property department at Al Qusais Police Station.

Last year, a Pakistani newcomer to the UAE boarded the Metro at Dubai International Airport.

"When he paid for his ticket, he set aside his passport next to the counter and forgot it when he left to get the train," Mr Barham says.

When he realised he had lost the document he called the Roads and Transport Authority who put him in touch with the Metro stations, which had already flagged the item.

"They looked though his passport to find the local sponsor here and called him but there was no answer," Mr Barham says. "They also called the agency he arranged the trip with to leave a message."

Eventually the man was reunited with his passport but not all tales have happy endings. Some items, such as Nol cards, cash and phones, are often pocketed by passengers.

Passengers are more likely to forget belongings during rush hour, Ms de la Cruz says.

"It usually picks up in the afternoons," she says, "and it happens every day."