The new Dubai Al Sufouh Tramway will open on 11 November. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and ruler of Dubai, confirmed the official launch date following a test run on the first section of the new network.

Dubai’s tram system will be the first in the modern era to run exclusively catenary-free. The 14.6-kilometre network utilises Alstom’s APS II system (Alimentation par le Sol), an updated version of the one which was first used on Bordeaux’s tram in 2003.

A third rail is buried centrally between the two running rails, exposing only the top surface at ground level. This rail is divided into short insulated sections and only those actually under the tram at any one time are energised. Thus, pedestrians and pets can safely walk on exposed sections of the track without fear of electrocution.

Up until now, the system has been used on relatively short stretches of track to run through areas where unsightly overhead wires would not be welcome. Thus, the Bordeaux system has a total of 12km of APS out of a total network length of 43.3km.

However, Dubai is the first network to run without wires at all. Services on the 14.5 kilometre route will be run using Alstom Citadis 402 trams, each 44 metres long and with a capacity of 408 passengers. Interestingly, all of the stations will be fitted with platform screen doors, another first for a tram system.