The consultant was appointed by Dubai’s Roads & Transport Authority (RTA) in early February and is expected to spend about eight months evaluating existing metro and light-rail projects.

The group will then plan how to incorporate them into the forthcoming UAE national rail project. Finally, the consultant will prepare feasibility studies for the future expansion of Dubai’s rail network, analysing the emirate’s needs through to 2020. “We awarded the contract and expect [Parsons Brinckerhoff] to start work soon,” says one senior rail official at the RTA. “It will look at all the rail projects around Dubai.”

In light of the recent economic downturn, Dubai has decided to reassess its rail needs before proceeding with costly new construction projects. “The main emphasis [of the study] is to plan for projects that have been announced,” says the official. “We have more than AED100bn ($22.2bn) worth of existing rail projects in Dubai.”

One of Parsons Brinckerhoff’s tasks could be to unpick the disagreement between the RTA and Dubai Airports over the route and funding of the Purple line of the Dubai Metro.

Parsons Brinckerhoff will also study the tram networks under development, serving Dubai Marina, Al-Sufouh and the Downtown Burj Dubai area.

The rail study will link into the Dubai Executive Council’s urban development framework project. Parsons Brinckerhoff declined to comment.