Qatar Rail CEO Saad Al Muhannadi said that “within a short period of time, Qatar Rail has signed several agreements, worth over USD 32 bn in total, to proceed with the preliminary works for the Doha Metro project and the Lusail Light Rail Transit”. Work for the Doha Metro projects is moving along as scheduled, and that for the Lusail Light Rail Transit has reached the advanced stages.
“The Long Distance Passenger and Freight Rail transportation system, which will cover 350 kms in distance at a speed ranging between 220 and 350 kmph for passenger trains and nearing 120 kmph for freight trains, is currently under technical and commercial evaluation by expert consultants,” he said.
Lusail Light Rail Transit
Al Muhannadi revealed that Qatar Rail has finalised the tunneling works for the project’s tunnels and completed over 60 percent of the structure for drilling works for its stations. Additionally, 50 percent of the structure of the bridge overseeing Al Khor and the Lusail Light Rail Transit, which is slated to be officially delivered by 2017, has been set up — the Lusail Light Rail Transit is composed of four lines extending to 30.5 km in total, among 19 km are at ground level, 10 km underground and 1 km above the ground, in addition to a 0.5-km track between two high-rises. The overall project consists of a fleet of 34 trains and 37 stations, 24 of which are on ground level, 10 underground, one located at bridge level, and two connect two high-rises.
Necessity of public transport
Qatar Rail deputy CEO and chief programme officer Hamad El Bishri noted that 25 percent of the country’s infrastructure investments over the coming yesars would be put into Qatar Rail. “Qatar Rail’s developments are essential in Qatar’s urban fabric, consistently working to meet Qatari society’s growing needs for sustainable development; public transport has become a bare infrastructural necessity for any developed market, whereby Metro networks have largely contributed to the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, pollution and time-wasting traffic jams,” he said.
The Doha Metro network consists of four lines extended to 354 km across the Greater Doha area, connecting the city’s two central points with larger commercial and residential areas in Downtown Doha, and operating underground in busy areas, and on-and-above the ground levels in the suburbs. Moreover, the network will cover 93 stations, two of which are central and located in the city of Msheireb and Education City. The Metro lines will be distributed as follows:
– Red Line (coastal line) will traverse Wakrah City, Doha International Airport, Msheireb, Katara, The Pearl and Qatar University routes.
– Gold Line (History Line), bound from east to west, connects the airport’s northern part with Souk Waqef, Msheireb, Bin Mahmoud, Al Sadd and Al Waab
– Green Line (Education Line) trails Al Rayyan Road and connects Education City with Msheireb and Hamad Hospital.
– Blue Line (City Line) which is a semi-circular line that connects residential and commercial areas in West Bay and the northern part of Airport City with the main C-Ring Road. Additionally, the network will connect the Red, Gold, Green and Blue Lines with each other which will be implemented in two phases.
The Doha Metro project will usher in requirements of the increasing population growth in Qatar, where the Red Line-South will link Doha to Msheireb, which will be the major station and the intersection of all Metro lines. The Doha Metro Project will also operate underground in the centre of the city.
The Red Line will link Downtown Doha to the business hub area in West Bay – extending underground to reach the new Lusail city — while its Southern extension will connect Doha to the centre of Msheireb, which itself is the intersection point for all Doha Metro lines as well as its central station. The Gold Line will link the airport to Qatar’s new national museum, Msheireb central station and the heart of Doha. Meanwhile, the Green Line will transport passengers to football stadiums that would be built in preparation for the 2022 FIFAWorld Cup.
The Doha Metro project will be conducted over two stages: the first, scheduled to be completed in 2019, entails the setting up of 37 stations – among which Msheireb Station will be the Metro network’s headquarters and the intersection point for three of its four lines (Red, Green and Gold) – covering 84 km in total length (96 km underground, 11 km above ground level, and 4 km at ground level). Al Bishri explained that Education City station would serve a double purpose, linking the Green Line to the Long Distance passenger rail in addition to its current trajectory. The project’s second phase, extending to 152 km in total length (47 km underground, 76 km above ground level, and 29 km at ground level) and encompassing nearly 56 stations, will be delivered by 2026.
“The Metro lines will operate underground in areas located in the heart of Doha. Qatar Rail will employ advanced tunnel boring machines (TBMs) using Earth Pressure Balance (EPB) technology for the tunneling works for these underground operations, whereby a circular cutting ring will break into underground surfaces, creating cylinder cavities for the tunnels,” said Al Bishri.
He said the debris of this process would then be transferred, through the tunnels, to a “dish”, as the ring moves forward and cuts through underground concrete, supported by a hydraulic functioning system. This mechanism enables not only seamless setup of underground tunnels, but proper use of the demolished concrete as a supporting layer to the tunnels’ protection shield.
This machinery would be spread across 10 locations in Qatar — with the disc as the only visible part of the work for underground tunnels — whereby four cavitation machines would be deployed at Al Bidda station, two of which would traverse the underground route toward Msheireb station, and the remaining two cross the road to the centre of West Bay through the southern part of West Gulf station. The creation of underground tunnels will include the provision of logistical supplies to operate the EPB-powered machinery, and be split into two phases: the first would involve underground cavitation works and the second, the setting up of a proper underground infrastructure.
Qatar Rail will fully scan areas for underground tunnels before any drilling and excavation works take place, asserted Al Bishri, as it would set up several control and monitoring posts across these areas, and take precautionary measures in the face of any unforeseen problems or events; such measures include a balancing act of underground cement injections under buildings surrounding the underground stations, if needed. EPB technology would allow the company to conduct the works for underground tunnels with little impact on residential areas located above and around these tunnels. Al Bishri assured that the works for underground tunnels would not disrupt Qatari residents’ daily lives.
Time-saving and eco-friendly
The distance from the Msheireb area to Al Rayyan Stadium is estimated at 39 minutes by car, compared to 23.5 minutes by Metro,” Al Muhannadi explained, “while the approximate quantity of carbon dioxide emission saved by Metro transport for this distance is 2.8 kg, enough energy to light a lamp for 850 hours.”
Likewise, commuting from Msheireb to Qatar University consumes 28 minutes by car, whereas by Metro, it takes 18 minutes and saves 1.9 kg in carbon dioxide – enough energy to operate a TV for 200 hours in eight days. Similarly, a trip from Msheireb to Education City consumes 28 minutes by car and emits 1.8 kg of carbon dioxide, whereas it is estimated at 16 minutes by Metro.
Over the past 18 months, Qatar Rail has conducted a 15-volume intensive study over 100 sq. km of Qatari territory, evaluating the possible environmental impact and footprint of the railway network projects whether during or after its completion. Qatar Rail has been working closely with the Ministry of Environment to ensure that its projects are certified and permits granted on the basis of its compliance with the ministry’s standards and requirements. When the Doha Metro operates in full capacity by 2030, 17,000 cars would be off be off the street, which means a saving of 107,000 kg of carbon dioxide emissions, just about enough energy to fly around the world 21 times.
Long Distance Passenger and Freight Rail
Al Bishri explained that this project consisted of three different categories: a shuttle service for GCC transit passengers and travellers, transportation services for locals and freight transport services for international and domestic routes. The project would be executed over four phases, with plans to initiate the enabling works in 2015 and complete the fourth and final phase in 2030.
The network would extend to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, New Doha Port and Qatar’s Hamad International Airport. The project’s first phase entails connecting Doha with Mesaieed and the Saudi border, the second phase would link west Doha to Hamad International Airport and Bahrain, the third phase would link Doha and west Doha to Ras Laffan and the fourth phase would consist of building the remaining lines for passenger and freight transport.