Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Projects of the decade: Atkins

Atkins has been involved in transforming the centre of two major cities on opposite sides of the world - the Dubai Metro and the crossing at Oxford Street, London.

The Dubai Metro

Atkins’ role

Atkins is providing full multidisciplinary detailed design for all infrastructure for both the Red and Green Lines, comprising:
■ 35 overground stations
■ 10 underground stations
■ 3 depots
■ 62km viaducts
■ 13km of bored and cut & cover tunnels
■ 5km footbridges
■ 3 car parks providing 12,000 spaces

Other parties

Employer Roads & Transport Authority of Dubai

Contractor (Atkins’ Client) Japan-Turkey Metro Joint Venture (JTMJV)


Atkins started the design in April 2006. The Red Line opened to the public as scheduled on 9 September 2009 and work is continuing to complete the project.

Brief description

Dubai Metro is the flagship transportation project in Dubai. As well as being an architectural and engineering showpiece, it will offer an efficient, environmentally friendly and convenient form of transport in one of the most rapidly advancing cities in the world.


One of the greatest challenges at the outset was to mobilise around 400 of our design experts from across the globe in just six weeks to work on this tightly programmed multidisciplinary project. At its peak over 1,000 designers worked on the project.

Interesting facts and statistics

■ Dubai Metro is the UAE’s first major modern public transport system
■ 12,900t - CO² saved through innovative design of walkways, cutting out 500m³ of aluminium
■ When completed, Dubai Metro will be the longest automated, driverless system in the world

Oxford Circus Diagonal Crossing

Oxford Street diagonal crossing

ATKINS’ role

Atkins was responsible for urban design services, transport & pedestrian modelling and project management.

Other parties

The scheme was jointly funded by Transport for London and The Crown Estate, for whom Atkins provides advice on Regent Street public realm strategy. The construction phase was project managed by Westminster City Council using their service provider West One.


Design work started in October 2007. Construction work on the project began in spring 2009 and it was opened on 2 November 2009 by London Mayor Boris Johnson.


The cost of the project was initially estimated at £5M. However due to construction efficiencies and the use of recycled materials, the project cost was reduced to approximately £4.4M.

Brief description

Atkins, in liaison with the other parties, used innovative design and pioneering technology to reduce congestion at Oxford Circus, one of the busiest public spaces in the world with more than 200M visitors a year. The solution, a diagonal crossing inspired by Tokyo’s famous Shibuya crossing, saw the removal of existing barriers and street clutter to give pedestrians the freedom to move around quickly both straight ahead and diagonally.


Atkins’ pedestrian modelling team adapted the same technology used in blockbuster films such as the Lord of the Rings to ensure the layout of the new crossing could cope with the vast numbers of people who pass through it. The 3D simulation analysed the expected behaviour of 5,000 virtual visitors, factoring in potential human behaviour. The success of the scheme proves the accuracy of the modelling technology, which can be used in any number of scenarios such as schools, hospitals or sporting events.

Interesting facts and statistics

■ 70% - the increase in pedestrian space following removal of street clutter and barriers
■ £6.5M - the annual benefits from pedestrian and vehicle journey time savings
■ Walking speeds at Oxford Circus have doubled

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.