Feature, Transport

The world’s longest automated rail system automates its lighting control

The Dubai Metro has entered the Guinness Book of World Records – it’s the longest automated rail system in the world. It opened at the end of 2009 with the Red Line; the Green Line followed in September 2011.


Dubai’s rapidly expanding economy, growing population and severe traffic congestion made the rail system essential. The Metro carries 300,000 passengers every day, and comprises a network that runs underground in the city centre and on elevated viaducts along key urban corridors. The network covers 318km and the station interior designs echo the four elements: water, air, earth and fire. The shell-shaped roofs of the elevated stations evoke Dubai’s heritage of pearl diving.

Master plan
The Roads and Transport Authority’s master plan includes 320km of metro lines up to 2020 to cater for the expected 3.3 million population of the city and there are plans for 268km of light railway to act as a feeder for the Metro. Each of the 47 stations was commissioned independently as part of a phased programme, and stations were added to the system one by one.

Each station was fitted with a range of fluorescent, high bay and LED fittings specified by Atkins, which was responsible for design co-ordination. Atkins said one of the greatest challenges from the outset was to mobilise its pool of international specialist design experts from various offices and combine them with the company’s local team in Dubai to work on the project.

“Centralised controls co-ordinate the entire network, but can be overridden at a local level by standalone controls in case of a break in the network”

Stephen Woodnutt, Delmatic

Effective light distribution
The Metro project was designed with effective light distribution and energy efficiency in mind. LEDs have been fitted in handrails, guiding passengers down staircases and escalators, and station cove lighting is provided by fluorescent sources.

Addressable controls have been introduced across the entire network in the front-of-house parts of each station as well as in areas of the stations or places between stations where passengers are evacuated in an emergency. These controls, supplied by Delmatic, work with the rail network’s supervisory control and data acquisition (Scada) system for remote management and monitoring.

Setting the scene
The control system supports a number of scenes – daytime, night-time, dawn/dusk and emergency, for example – that are activated automatically at scheduled times or in response to signals from a solar controller. Huge windows have been installed where possible to let in as much daylight as possible. The system incorporates daytime scenes that switch lighting off in areas of high daylight illumination.

Stephen Woodnutt, director at Delmatic, says: ‘It was a huge project. The energy-efficient control system offers a series of different scenes, depending on the time of day and particular events. Centralised controls co-ordinate the entire network, but can be overriden at a local level by standalone controls in case of a break in the network.’

Custom console
Secure local override control is available to each stationmaster from a custom console that displays the active scene, allows changeover from automatic to manual override settings and indicates the health of the communications network.

Delmatic was involved from an early stage as part of the project team and worked to develop both the system application and integration with the Scada network. Woodnutt says: ‘The modular nature of the system makes troubleshooting extremely simple, and the plug-in electronics enable rapid replacement of any faulty items.’ 

Energy Dashboard

20-50kVaaverage lighting load
in stations