RAPID TRANSIT ON TRACK

Qatar 2019 | TRANSPORT | FOCUS: DOHA METRO

The administrators of Doha, a modern metropolis, are close to providing a system to end congestion and link key buildings and areas swiftly and with greater safety. To relieve life on the surface, Qatar Rail has gone underground.

Qatar Vision 2030 embodies efforts to diversify the economy and maximize the nation's investor appeal, while transforming it into a state-of-the-art technological hub. Qatar is also set to welcome far more visitors in the years ahead due to industrial growth and international sporting prowess. Doha Metro is a key undertaking in this process. Valued at USD36 billion, it will help realize national plans from a logistical perspective. Once complete, it will connect many key locations, from Education City and West Bay to the intelligent city of Lusail, Doha airport, the commercial and conference center, and the host stadiums of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

A boring solution

A landmark scheme for Qatar, most of the metro system will link the capital with the suburbs using tunnel boring machines (TBMs), which has had relatively little effect on life at the street level. That said, part of the system involves overhead and ground-level tracks.

Initial rollout nears completion

Doha's metro system is being constructed in two phases, the first comprising 37 stations on three of what will ultimately be four lines, red, gold, and green, whose launch will be in 2020, and blue, along with an additional 60 stations, which will arrive in phase two by 2026. By April 2018, Qatar Rail had completed 77% of this ambitious network, encompassing 81% of related construction and 59% of systems installation. Accordingly, the inauguration of Phase I, the Red Line running from Al Qassar to Al Wakrah, was earmarked for October 31, 2018. Of its 18 stations, the principle Msheireb station will have the highest capacity, with 100,000 passengers per hour. Other stops have capacities of 60,000 and 30,000 passengers per hour.

The stations and lines

While technically ultra-modern, the stations' architecture will speak to Qatar's historical heritage, with vaulted spaces reminiscent of Bedouin tents. The Doha Metro network's largest station, Msheireb, will be its hub, where the red, green, and gold lines intersect. The red line will run some 40km along the coast from Al Wakrah in the south to Lusail in the north. Passengers will also use this line for connection from the city center to Hamad International Airport. Among its 18 stations is Legtaifiya, where passengers can also transfer to the Lusail tram. The line will also join the city with the neighboring towns of Al Khor in the north and Mesaieed in the south. The green line, with 11 stations, runs east from Al Riffa to Al Mansoura in the west. Passing through Education City, it is already being referred to as the "education line." It also connects the Industrial Area South. The historic 11-stop east-west gold line runs from Ras Bu Aboud to Al Aziziya and connects with the Airport City North via central Msheireb. The blue line bridges the residential and commercial areas of West Bay and Airport City North along Doha's main C-Ring Road.

Thoughts of train

While we are on this track, Qatar Rail's wider vision is more ambitious still, encompassing, among other infrastructure, an east coast rail link joining Ras Laffan and Mesaieed. Despite prevailing diplomatic travails, Doha Metro and related schemes confirm that the government's perspective, like the lines themselves, stretches beyond current limitations.