Beams of white light shot into the night sky, fireworks exploded and the wheels of the Dubai Tram began to roll, with a very distinguished passenger on board.
Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, the crown prince of Dubai, launched the first phase of the Dubai Tram network earlier and was the first passenger to travel on the state-of-the-art transit system.
Served by 11 stations, the 10.6km network winds through the densely populated areas of Al Sufouh, Dubai Marina and Jumeirah Beach Residence, while also serving Dubai Media City, Knowledge Village and The Palm Jumeirah.
The Dubai Tram is the first tram outside Europe powered by ground-based electric cables extending throughout the tramway, avoiding the need for hanging cables.
It is also the first tram in the world to utilise platform screen doors, which synchronise with the opening and closing of the tram doors, to provide additional safety to riders.
The Roads and Transport Authority announced the operation hours of the new Dubai Tram system as 06:30 am up to 1:30 from Saturday to Thursday; on Fridays, it will run from 9:00 to 01.30 of the following day.
Each tram can accommodate up to 405 passengers in its seven carriages, and like the Dubai Metro, it has Gold, Women and Children, and Silver cabins.
“The Dubai Tram is a brainchild of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice-president and prime minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to provide an advanced transit system that serves the JBR, Marina and Sufouh,” said Mattar Al Tayer, chairman of the board and Executive Director of the RTA.
“At the establishment of the RTA in 2005, His Highness directed to thrash out integrated and comprehensive solutions for the area in order to accommodate the huge urbanisation projects in the neighbourhood, particularly the JBR and the Marina.”
Al Tayer added that the decision to start a tram service was made after the RTA conducted a comprehensive study, which revealed that the area needs massive improvement in its road network and a mass transit system linking the Dubai Metro and the Monorail on the Palm Jumeirah.
Dubai’s public transport agency is expected to begin the second phase of the tram project soon.
The second stage of the Dubai Tram will extend to 14.6 km along Sufouh Street, though officials have not specified a start date.