Dubai Metro Extension – Route 2020
Route 2020 is a five stage extension of the Dubai Metro Line up to the World Exposition 2020 exhibition site in Dubai, UAE. Estimated to cost $2.9bn, the project represents the first major expansion of the Red Line.
The Roads and Transport Authority of Dubai is undertaking the project, the proposals for which were signed in 2015. Construction on the metro rail extension route began in September 2016 and is expected to be completed by the end of 2019, while operations are planned to commence by May 2020. The new route is expected to serve approximately 270,000 commuters travelling to and from commercial and residential areas.
Route 2020 comprises a 15km-long line, of which 11.8km is an elevated section and the remaining 3.2km is underground. Its route is designed to cover populated areas in the city to make commutation easy for visitors and residents of Dubai not only during the six month world fair but also in the future.
The 3.2km-long tunnel is located between Discovery Gardens and Green Community and has a depth ranging between 12.5m and 36m. This was completed in December 2018. The Route 2020 plan also includes the construction of three main power supply stations and an additional traction power supply station.
Rail Construction News spoke to Jesús Sancho from main contractor ACCIONA about the project.
How did ACCIONA first become involved with Route 2020?
“ACCIONA quickly identified this metro project as part of our core business and expertise thanks to our vast experience in railway and metro infrastructure. Back in 2015, RTA prequalified ACCIONA along with its consortium partners for this iconic project.
“We approached Alstom (France) as we knew that a strong formation of a highly specialised delivery, along with another international reputed rolling stock provider -with whom ACCIONA had successfully worked together in the past (i.e. Australia)- is always welcome and adds value to the clients. We then added Gulermak (Turkey) as a reputed third partner. In the end, only a handful of teams actually bid for this mega project.”
What is ACCIONA’S exact role in the project? What are you responsible for?
“The ‘Route 2020’ Project was awarded to the joint venture of ACCIONA and Gulermak in consortium with Alstom, together named the ‘Expolink Consortium’. Alstom provides the rolling stock and the control/communication systems while the joint venture provides the civil works, viaduct, tunnel, tie-in and the building of all the metro stations including the iconic Expo Station.
“The Civil Works Joint Venture between ACCIONA and Gulermak is called the ‘CWJV’ where ACCIONA is the majority stakeholder and the leader within this team.
“At ACCIONA, I am co-responsible for the P&L of the Project and part of the decision making body or ‘Steering Committee’ of the Project.”
How long have you been working on the project? What is left to do?
“I have been working on the project since its inception in 2015. From the early detection, to the formation of the Consortium, then during the bid preparation, the negotiations with RTA and during the execution stage until now.
“As of May 2019, the Project has reached 80% completion as planned. All of the heavy civil works (i.e. viaduct, tie-in and tunnel) are pretty much completed we are now mainly focused on finalising the metro stations.”
Does the project require any specialist equipment?
“Indeed as this is a high-tech, state-of-the-art railway infrastructure. All design has been fully provided by the Joint Venture using the highest level of BIM to coordinate all of the different disciplines involved, with many simulation and 4D assessments.
“Speaking only on the civil works side, it has utilised the most advanced technology in tunnelling boring machines, launching girders, pre cast yards and construction and elevation methods. It is a challenge in itself where the most qualified work force and advanced equipment have been deployed to achieve this outstanding result.”
What have been some of the challenges on the project?
“As mentioned before, the project is a challenge altogether. We encountered many technical difficulties that have been managed to maintain the delivery schedule on time. Some of those challenges that we overcame were the dewatering of the subterranean stations, the interface with several of the neighbouring communities to minimise the impact during the construction (traffic and utilities diversions for example) and the construction of the tie-in area where the track split in two are good examples. Additionally the accommodation of the design changes to our construction program and the approvals for all the necessary work and construction permits were also quite daring.”
How important is it to be involved with a Route 2020?
“Route 2020 is a landmark railway Project in Dubai. Given the technical, operational and construction challenges associated with it, as well as the very tight deadlines and the sheer size of the contract amount –above AED11Bill– makes this Project a lighthouse for the UAE, the GCC and also worldwide. The intimate relation of the project with the Expo 2020 event is all the more important since, for example, the project includes the design and build of the iconic Expo Station, which will represent the main gateway for the visitors.
“The fact that ACCIONA is the lead main contractor for the CWJV Route 2020 project makes us extremely proud of our achievements and the Project has made and will make a great difference in the perception of the ACCIONA brand in the greater Middle East.”