Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) on Wednesday announced the award of a AED10.6 billion ($2.89 billion) contract to expand the city’s metro system.

The deal to extend the Dubai Metro’s Red Line to the Expo 2020 site has been given to Expolink Consortium, led by French firm Alstom, Acciona from Spain and Turkish firm Gulermak.

In a series of tweets, the RTA said Dubai’s ruler has ordered that work on Route 2020, the extension of the Dubai Metro Red Line to the Expo site, to start immediately.

It said that Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has also called for the “timely completion” of the project.

The transport authority said the project includes the procurement of 50 trains – 35 to upgrade the metro service and 15 for the Expo service.

Route 2020 is expected to serve about 125,000 riders per day and the number is set grow to as many as 275,000 riders by 2030, it added.

Mattar Al Tayer, director-general and chairman of the RTA, said the Route 2020 project was part of the Dubai Plan 2021 for sustainable development, improved infrastructure and world-class services.

He said that the RTA had set clear objectives for the technical and financial assessment throughout the tendering, which attracted bids from five consortia, and over 100 specialists advised on the process.

The trial run on the 15km route is expected to begin by the end of 2019, while the operations will begin five months before the start of Expo 2020.

The Route 2020 expansion will begin from Nakheel Harbour and Tower Metro Station on the Dubai Metro’s Red Line and extend 15km with seven new stations – five elevated and two underground.

The new stations will serve residential areas such as Discovery Gardens, Furjan, Jumeirah Golf Estate and the Dubai Investment Park.

Passengers should be able to travel from Dubai Marina to the Expo2020 site in 16 minutes, officials claim.

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