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Abu Dhabi to have Railway system in seven years

The Abu Dhabi emirate is planning to construct a railway system by the year 2015, to cope with the transportation problem of its ever increasing population, a senior transport official has said. "It’s clear we can’t sustain the growth of this city on private cars alone. We have to focus on public transport," said Falah al Ahbabi, the general manager of the Urban Planning Council (UPC). The population of Abu Dhabi is expected to increase to more than three million people by 2030, and planners say it is ’a must’ for Abu Dhabi, heavily reliant on a taxi service that often cannot cope with the demand, to have its own metro by 2015, a report published by the National daily said. "We know the urgency of this, and know the demand coming in future. We want to see this up and running and it is a must to see it up and running within seven years," he added. A report on the future of the city’s transport system, which was commissioned by the Department of Transport and the UPC, last December, is due by the end of the year. That report will provide more details about the kind of metro Abu Dhabi will have, with work on a new railway line serving the city to begin soon afterwards. "We have to decide on the routes, and whether it is going to be over ground or underground, or both," he said, adding: "Some districts could be linked by a fast metro with a few stops, and others will have more frequent stops, because the line use is completely different". Early next year, after the report was finished, the council would search for a private sector contractor to build the system. Taking account of the time needed for construction and test runs, seven years was an achievable goal, he said, adding: "What I can say is this is definitely going to happen." Ahbabi said the light railway line would be complemented by a fast rail link between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, as well as between the UAE and other GCC countries. That proposal is already at planning stage. By the time the railway line opens, the population of metropolitan Abu Dhabi is expected to be more than 1.3 million. The city’s long-term vision document, Plan Abu Dhabi 2030, called for at least two high-capacity metro lines, with one originating from Saadiyat Island and Al Mina, turning left at Central Station and following Airport Road to the Grand Mosque district, Capital district, and Raha Beach. The other line would cross the downtown area from east to west, connecting Al Reem and Al Suwwah to Central Station and the Marina Mall development. The document also called for ’a fine-grained network of surface light rail, streetcars and buses’ to make sure there would never be more than a five-minute walk required by those using public transport. Two of the world’s most high-profile transport consultants, Mott MacDonald and Steer Davies Gleave, were awarded the contract to produce Abu Dhabi’s transport strategy in December last year.

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