Abu Dhabi’s Department of Transport has recently announced that it is pressing ahead with the procurement of the first phase of its metro and light rail project, representing not only a significant step in the development of the Emirate’s critical infrastructure, but also marking a renewed confidence and welcome return of the infrastructure development market in Abu Dhabi after several years of relatively subdued activity.

What’s planned?

The first phase will comprise a metro line, two light rail lines and a bus rapid transit system.  The DOT is expected to procure the project under a number of separate contracts with expectations that some, if not all, of the contracts will be FIDIC based and procured on a design, build, operate and maintain basis.

The metro line will be procured under three separate contracts: above ground structures; underground construction works; and the rail system, rolling stock and operation and maintenance contract.  When the tender documents are released, it will be interesting to learn whether the DOT is prepared to give bidders flexibility to submit alternative bids on the basis of different lengths of track underground and above ground from those required by the tender documents if this provides better value for money.

There will be two light rail transit lines procured at the same time, which will broadly run across the top of the island.  The construction of these lines will require substantial work to the existing road network and will involve interfaces with existing infrastructure. Whether the DOT will procure this work separately or include this in the scope of each of the successful bidders obligations will be interesting and is significant.  In addition, it remains to be seen whether the DOT is open to the possibility that one bidder could be appointed to provide both lines.

The bus rapid transit system will be a closed system of approx. 4km running in a loop around the top of the island.

DOT intends to procure the project by way of direct procurement and will directly fund the project itself.

To read more about Abu Dhabi’s landmark metro and light rail project and read an analysis of key considerations related to the project, click here