The French/Belgian-led consortium that was awarded the contract to design, build and operate the $1.1bn Al-Sufouh tram in Dubai in 2008 has now restarted work on the project.

The consortium, which is led by France’s Alstom and the local/Belgian Belhasa Six Construct, has now resumed some works including the viaduct on Sheikh Zayed Road, the mock-up station, the tramway at Jumeirah Beach Residence and some utilities work at Dubai Marina.

Middle East tram projects
Country Project Cost
UAE Al-Sufouh tram $1.1bn
Morocco Casablanca tram $850m
Jordan Amman tram $1.2bn
Egypt Heliopolis tram n/a
n/a=Not available. Source: MEED

The consortium also includes UK-based Serco and US-based Parsons International.

In June 2010, the consortium stopped work on the tram project due to irregular payments from the client, Dubai’s Roads & Transport Authority (RTA) (MEED 8:6:10). Later in the year, the RTA said it was in negotiations with the consortium over the financing of the tram. However, funding has yet to be secured four months on, although talks between the RTA and financiers are now scheduled to begin in April, says a source close to the project.

The RTA was not available for comment.

The Al-Sufouh tram project has been delayed for some time due to a change in the alignment and design of the tramway. The line will now run in the same direction linking the Burj al-Arab, Mall of the Emirates and Dubai Marina, but will not run along Al-Sufouh road itself as previously planned. Because of these changes, the tram is now expected to be operational at the end of 2014 rather than in April 2011 as initially planned.

The original design of the tram project involved building the tramway with 19 stations in two phases. The 11-kilometre first phase would have run along Al-Sufouh road from Dubai Marina to Jumeirah Beach Residences and connect to Dubai Metro’s Red line. The second phase involved building a spur line that will run to Mall of the Emirates.

France’s Systra is the consultant on the project.

It is not the first time the RTA has had to hold financial talks over a project. Negotiations between the RTA and the Dubai Rail Link Consortium (Durl), which is carrying out construction work on Dubai metro, began in 2009 and were only resolved in the latter part of 2010. The RTA has now reached a settlement over the outstanding payments on the AED29.6bn ($8.1bn) Dubai Metro project. The RTA is now scheduled to pay AED3.77bn between May 2010 and September 2011. The remaining AED5.8bn will be repaid over the next seven years.