RTA signs extension of metro operation and maintenance contract with Serco

October 30, 2013 10:55 am

The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has signed a contract for renewing the operation and maintenance of the Dubai Metro with the British Serco company expiring in September 2019 and renewable for further two years. The contract is worth 2.09 billion dirham, marking a 23.5% reduction in the worth of the operation & maintenance contract made for the previous five years.

H.E. Mattar Al Tayer, Chairman of the Board and Executive Director of the RTA, said that Serco was selected in recognition of its good performance record in operating the Dubai Metro over the past 4 years. The original contract made with the company in 2008 includes an provision offering the RTA to renew or extend the contract for 5 additional years, and Serco is experienced in operating and maintaining a number of metro and rail lines in Europe and Australia, he noted.

“Under the contract, the company will provide operation & maintenance services for all assets of the metro system including trains, railways, stations and all associated facilities during the contract period. It will also provide high-class passenger transit services compatible with the daily changes and fluctuations in the flow of passengers in the metro network. It also attends to operating the metro revenue system, collecting revenues of selling & recharging of Nol cards at the metro stations, and providing placements for citizens as well as training them with a view to realizing targeted Emiratization rates over the next five years. The RTA is keen on striking a balance between Emiratization and the transfer of international expertise in operating the rail systems; which is a new field in the region,” said Al Tayer.

“Tasking the metro operation and maintenance process to specialized international firms is attributed to a myriad of factors highlighted by the fact the metro operation & maintenance requires experience and knowledge about the methods of scheduling metro lines, and a range of sophisticated electronic, computer and mechanical systems on which the system is based in addition to the administrative expertise required for running the system in an excellent manner,” added Al Tayer noting that there are no local experienced personnel in these fields and hence it will be difficult to establish a technical administrative unit to cater to the metro operation without seeking the support of an expert entity specialized in this field,” he elaborated.

Citing more reasons underling the award, Al Tayer said: “The operation of the Red and Green Lines of the Dubai Metro requires about 3200 employees to operate and maintain the metro and it will be difficult for the RTA to source and train this huge number of qualified technical cadres since the RTA has no existing metro systems to train new recruits on. Meanwhile the specialized companies have the ability to go about this business thanks to their other systems in place along with their knowledge and interaction with specialists, experts and technicians in this filed around the globe. Thus it will be easier for the company to source skilled staffs and deploy them on the Dubai Metro project. Moreover, the outsourcing of the operation and maintenance process to specialized firms does minimizes the costs of the metro operation and maintenance through counting on the high-performing qualified staffs of private firms in providing top quality services at comparatively lower costs while attending to continuous improvements to slash their operational costs. Add to that the RTA has to focus more on its core business in working out legislations and overseeing the compliance and enforcement thereof, besides supervising mega projects.

“The ultimate deliverables of this contract is to ensure a highly efficient operation and maintenance of the metro, generate new career prospects for Emiratis, transfer operation & maintenance expertise of the rail system to national staffs, and establish a dichotomy between the role of the operation & maintenance firm responsible for the operation of the system, and the role of the RTA in supervising and monitoring the operation.

“The privatization of the metro and rail operations and maintenance is an established practice adopted by a number of metro systems across the globe such as the underground systems of London, Sweden, France, Australia, Korea, and the USA among others,” added Al Tayer in a concluding remark.

For his part Christopher Hyman, Group Chief Executive of Serco, said: “We are delighted to be extending our contract to operate one of the world’s most advanced urban rail systems. The Dubai Metro is truly iconic and it gives us great pride to continue our partnership with the RTA, play a part in the development of integrated and sustainable transportation systems for Dubai’s residents and visitors, and to support the RTA’s vision to provide “safe and smooth transport for all”.

This award, he continues, reflects the high level of confidence the RTA has in Serco to continue delivering world-beating standards in safety, performance and customer service, and will support further strong growth opportunities that we see across the Middle East region.