Dubai’s Al-Sufouh tram project has been pushed over budget by the late addition of extra safety measures, which have been implemented to prevent collisions with cars and pedestrians.

“We have had to add extras to the project to prevent accidents. These extras weren’t planned for in the beginning, but the police and senior officials said we needed to change the plan and these changes are adding costs,” says Abdul Redha Abu al-Hassan, director of rail planning and projects development at Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA).

So far, the overrun is less than five percent of the total $1.1bn budget for the first phase of the tram project, according to Al-Hassan. The scheme is currently undergoing a third and final round of testing and is due to open in November.

Safety features being added to the tram lines include guards that prevent cars and pedestrians from crossing, apart from at designated intersections. The intersections have also been modified to make them safer.

“For the tram the challenges are quite different to the metro, where the carriage is separated from the traffic,” says Al-Hassan.

“The tram is interacting with people and interacting with cars, which creates risk. Car drivers are unpredictable and we need to stop accidents before they happen. To prevent these accidents we are spending a lot of money and have added a lot of measures. We are taking this very seriously.”

Heavy fines are being introduced to help discourage accidents. If a driver causes a tram accident they will be fined AED5,000 and their driving license will be cancelled for three months. If the accident is serious that sum can rise to up to AED30,000, and the suspension of the license can be extended for as much as a year.

The main contract for the tram was awarded to France’s Alstom and the local/Belgian Belhasa Six Construct in 2008.

In June 2010, work was halted due to financing issues, with it beginning again in January 2011. In 2012, a consortium led by Alstom won a 13-year, $231m maintenance contract for the tram project’s first phase and in September 2013, the UK’s Serco won a $17.9m contract to operate it.