Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) signed a AED105m ($17.9m) contract with UK firm Serco to operate the emirate’s new tram.

Phase One of the Al-Sufouh tramway will cover 10 kilometres connecting Dubai Marina with Media City and Knowledge Village and is expected to be opened in November 2014.

The contract covers a period of 75 months starting in August, including 15 months of preparations for operation and recruitment and training of employees and five years of operation.

The project contractor, a joint venture between France’s Alstom and Belgium’s Besix, will look after the maintenance of the project for 13 years, and a possible additional five years.

The design of the network ensures that it integrates with other forms of public transport. It will connect with both the JLT and Dubai Marina metro stations as well as connect with the monorail on the Palm Jumeirah. Along the whole line, there are plans to build a pedestrian path and bicycle route.

The tram is expected to be relatively fast with a design speed of 22 kilometres per hour – in the upper range for speed for such a tram and could potentially run at faster speeds. It will also be one of the world’s first tramways to be powered by an underground supply of electricity.

The tram is expected to carry about 27,000 riders per day at the start of operations in 2014, and the ridership is due to hit 66,000 riders per day by 2020.

The construction contracts for the tram were originally awarded to Alstom and Besix in 2008. Work on the project stalled in 2010 due to financing problems, but construction was resumed at the beginning of 2011.