Dubai’s Roads & Transport Authority (RTA) is preparing to make a multibillion-dollar investment in new rolling stock as metro ridership increases ahead of expectations.

“We are going to order new trains,” says Abdulredha Abu al-Hassan, director of rail planning and development at the RTA.

“We need the trains to be deployed in less than 24 months. The orders will have to be placed immediately to get them within this time frame.”

Dubai’s RTA says recent studies have shown faster uptake of the transport system and forecast that numbers will continue to increase in the run-up to the World Expo, being held in the emirate in 2020.

“Unfortunately, we cannot order 20 or 30 trains to come together. The production line cannot produce more than a few trains at a time, so the trains will arrive in stages. Each train is worth around $20m. The total investment will be billions.”

The Dubai Metro is the world’s longest driverless metro system and already uses in excess of 80 five-car trains, all of which were built by Japanese rail specialist Kinki Sharyo.

RTA is currently planning to expand both operating metro lines, as well as adding additional lines.

At the moment, including the city’s tram, which is due to start operating in November, there is about 85 kilometres of light rail track in the city. According to RTA’s master plan, this will be expanded to 420km of metro and tram line by 2030.