Service Start-up in Dubai – United Arab Emirates

North Star were commissioned to provide operational support to the start-up of the Dubai Metro. The overall objective was to ensure that the service opened on time on the 9th September 2009 to meet the aspirations of the client.

Staged Opening

The Dubai Metro had to open in a reduced configuration from the original plan. This was to ensure that the aspirations of the client were met: a service that could open on-time and be increased in stages. The service opened with a ten minute headway and 10 of 29 stations opened over 80% of the route. In addition, a number of non-vital sub-systems were not operational.

Operating instructions

North Star used existing UK experience and best practice to write operational procedures that are understandable for multi-cultural staff without railway experience prior to their role in Dubai. These procedures also had to meet the requirements of the independent safety assessor (ISA). Having gained approval for opening, the procedures were further adjusted to reflect operating practices and aid memoirs were created to assist in real time decision making. As a result of the reduced configuration an addendum to the Operations Safety Case was needed as the main safety case was based upon the full configuration. North Star produced this safety case addendum to suit reduced configuration after a risk assessment of its operability. The revised operational instructions were then included in the training and briefing to staff.

Tests and trials

North Star also provided management for testing of foreseen operational scenarios. This involved the preparation of the overall strategy, the validation of an exercise plan against the hazards and the practical management of the exercises as the programme rolled out. The lessons learned from these exercises were captured and injected into the project work areas such as competence management or procedures and instructions to deliver overall improvement to operational readiness

Validation and verification

As a final check of the arrangements for operation, North Star undertook a verification of the Operations and Engineering Directors’ start-up activity to ensure that everything was in place following a limited train operations period and made an assessment of the viability for opening. Throughout this period, North Star assisted in liaison with the ultimate client and the ISA and responded to issues logs for the areas in which they were working.

Timetables and rosters

North Star were also engaged to help create the rules of orderly and efficient rosters creating both parameters and initial rosters. In order to bring the service to life North Star created and helped upload the first timetable to the automatic system to help operations commence.


Following commencement of operations North Star provided mentoring support to key operational roles at both strategic and operational levels. This ‘hands-on’ approach from experienced consultants helped in the bedding down of the operation at control and stations level.Action plans were created and delivered to build on the learning process in an organised and systematic way.


North Star’s assistance in all the above areas provided votal expertise to a project which had a tight deadline. The Dubai Metro opened on time to universal global acknowledgement.


“I first worked with North Star in 2008 when we were looking at the mobilisation of around 2000 people from 26 different countries for the Dubai metro. North Star were looking at the scheduling, rostering, service recovery, emergency planning, design and construction of the actual procedures and instructions manual right through to supporting us on the training and competency side.

“The perspective that North Star brought to the project was around the passenger experience. We needed to infiltrate that passenger experience into everything that we did, and they were very helpful in that area.“With a permanent presence in the Middle East, North Star are now locked into this business area and that kind of local knowledge is invaluable”

Mark McCole, Director for Rail Development at Serco Middle East, Africa and Asia.