A panel of metro experts advised those planning metro systems in the Middle East to ensure their trains are more attractive and accessible than the car.

Speaking at a rail conference in Dubai, panelists recommended that developers of metro systems should introduce additional services such as wifi internet access and video-on-demand.

“People should be able to do something they can’t in a car,” panellist Rabii Ouadi, head of business development Mena, at China’s Huawei Technologies said at a conference in Dubai.

Automated and contactless ticketing were some of the other recommendations made to ensure metro systems could be run as efficiently as possible in order to attract passengers.

Integrating metro systems with other forms of public transport, such as feeder buses, was also recommended. “It makes sense to integrate all modes of transport,” said Alain Polonsky, vice-president, director of development, at France’s RATP Development.

Ensuring that there will be enough passenger traffic is a key challenge for the many metro projects being developed from scratch in the GCC region. Developers of these projects need to make sure enough people switch their daily commute from the car to the metro, in order to guarantee a return on the large-scale investments being made.

“[It will be] a big challenge to change the habits of the people,” said Ouadi.