Qatar Rail’s public transportation system is expected to enter operations in 2019, and about two years after that will carry approximately 600,000 passengers daily, officials have said.
The figure, mentioned in a statement published this week by the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SCDL), is the first public ridership projection officials have made about the country’s under-construction rail network.
It also confirms forecasts Qatar Rail shared with prospective operators in procurement documents earlier this year.
That report states that 447,000 passengers are expected to ride the 37-station metro in 2020, its first full year of service, before jumping to 639,000 the following year and continuing to grow at a rate of 3.1 percent to 3.5 percent annually after that.
The figures refer to the total number of passenger journeys, meaning a single resident could be responsible for multiple trips each day and that less than 600,000 people will use the metro daily.
Transit ridership often dramatically increases over the first year of service as operators run public awareness campaigns and commuters adjust their travel patterns. Meanwhile, private firms have proposed various ways of developing the land around metro stations in Qatar to maximize ridership.
Qatar Rail’s forecasts suggest that roughly one out of every 10 residents will take a round-trip journey by rail each day, assuming the country’s population growth slows to 5 percent annually over the coming years.
By comparison, Dubai’s 49-station metro system carried an average of 450,156 passengers per day last year.
And the much larger Riyadh Metro, which is under construction and includes 85 stations, is expected to carry 1.16 million passengers daily when it’s completed in 2019, according to Reuters.
Qatar Rail has not responded to requests for information regarding its ridership projections.
So far, contractors have completed about 54 percent (61km) of the tunneling that needs to be done for the Doha Metro, which is mostly underground.
While many city blocks surrounding future station sites remain massive construction zones, there are some visible signs of progress.
For example, the overhead conveyor belt that ran through Doha’s central business district, transporting rocks, sand and dirt dug out of the ground from the future West Bay Central and West Bay South, is being dismantled.
While officials previously said that the elevated line would be moved to another location, Qatar Rail has not yet announced where that will be.
However, in a progress update this week, the company confirmed that tunneling for the Doha Metro will be completed next year.
The first phase of the project consists of four lines that will run both above and below ground:
- The Red Line North, running from Lusail to Msheireb via West Bay;
- The Red Line South, running from Msheireb to Mesaieed, with a branch to Hamad International Airport;
- The Green Line, running from Al Rayyan Stadium to Msheireb via Education City; and
- The Gold Line, running from Villaggio Mall to the area around the old Doha International Airport, via Msheireb.
The Doha Metro is one of three rail projects underway in Qatar.
A long-distance passenger and freight line is planned to run from Education City to the Saudi Arabian border, while a light-rail transit system is being constructed in Lusail City.
Qatar Rail said this week that tunneling on the Lusail project is complete. While officials have not stated publicly when service will commence, procurement documents suggest Qatar Rail is aiming for a 2019 launch.
Some 42,000 daily riders are expected on the Lusail LRT in 2020, climbing to 60,000 the following year and continuing to increase by 7 percent to 10 percent.
However, residents should be able to get their first visual sense of what riding the metro and Lusail LRT will be like next year, when full-size mockups of the rail vehicles for the two projects are delivered to Doha.