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Some 600,000 people a day expected to use Doha Metro by 2021

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Arcadis

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

More than half a million Qatar residents are expected to use the country’s upcoming Doha Metro by 2021, according to figures released by 2022 World Cup organizers this week.

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.

Doha Metro ridership forecast

Peter Kovessy

Doha Metro ridership forecast

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.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Vyacheslav Argenberg / Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

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.

Progress

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.

Al Mayeda TBM breakthrough at Msheireb station

Qatar Rail

Al Mayeda TBM breakthrough at Msheireb station

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.

Qatar Rail excavated materials conveyor belt

Peter Kovessy

Qatar Rail excavated materials conveyor belt

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 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.

Lusail LRT ridership projections

Peter Kovessy

Lusail LRT ridership projections

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.

Thoughts?

Major traffic diversions going up on Al Sadd St. for Doha Metro

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Qatar Rail

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

To make way for the Doha Metro, Qatar Rail is closing part of Al Sadd St. between C-Ring Road and Al Wabb this week.

Over the past few days, diversions have been set up specifically between Mohamed Bin Al Qasim St. (past Royal Plaza) and Al Waab, slowing traffic.

Qatar Rail said that the detours would be in place from Jan. 9, 2015 until Jan. 9, 2018.

Al Sadd diversion

Qatar Rail

Al Sadd diversion

For the past few months, the busy road has seen congestion steadily build, as the rail company began closing different service roads and parking lots.

Shopkeepers, many of whom have been operating in the area for decades, have lamented the construction, saying it is deterring customers. To cope, a few restaurant managers said they are trying to build up delivery services to keep themselves operational.

Metro plans

Al Saad station will be one of 11 stations on Doha Metro’s Gold Line, which is set to run West-East from Villaggio mall, under Al Waab street, along Al Saad street and eventually through to the northern end of the former Doha airport’s runway.

Phase 1 Gold Line

Qatar Rail

Phase 1 Gold Line

The public transportation system is expected to open to passenger traffic in 2019.

Last month, a senior Qatar Rail official said that the first phase of the Doha Metro is 16 percent complete.

He added that so far, some 40 percent of excavation works for 38 stations had been finished, meaning many parts of Qatar have already been dug up to make room for the new transit system.

Separately, a regional rail line is also in the works, as well as a light rail system at Lusail City. Both are scheduled for completion in 2018.

Thoughts?

Qatar Rail: Doha Metro 16% complete

Excavation and construction work for Qatar’s three main rail projects will be in full swing next year, as the deadlines for completion loom closer.

The country is building three main public transportation links: the Doha Metro, Lusail light-rail project and a high-speed, long-distance line.

Yesterday, a senior Qatar Rail official said work on the Doha Metro – which is due to open to passengers in 2019 – is 16 percent completed. That includes 40 percent of the excavation works for 38 stations, Qatar Rail’s Managing Director Abdulla Abdulaziz al-Subaie is quoted by Gulf Times as saying yesterday at Ahmed Bin Mohammed Military College.

Separately, al-Subaie echoed a commitment made at last week’s GCC summit to have a regional rail line running by 2018. He said work will also start next year on Qatar’s section of the transportation network, although Qatar Rail reportedly had still not issued construction tenders as of early last month.

Qatar will initially construct 148km of freight and passenger lines running up from the Saudi Arabian border. Once complete, the rail route is slated to run some 2,117km and link Kuwait City with Muscat through Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE at a cost of US$15.4 billion.

Lusail’s light rail system, which will install at least 32 passenger stations across a network stretching more than 30km, is also still on track to meet its 2018 deadline, Al Subaie said, adding that 8km of underground tunnels had already been dug out and 7km of electrical and mechanical works were complete.

Passengers will be able to transfer from Lusail’s light-rail line to the metro, which will travel on the surface before descending underground towards West Bay.

Digging out

Tunnel Boring MachineThe Doha Metro requires extensive tunneling beneath the surface. All 21 of the custom-made tunnel-boring machines needed to dig below the surface to create stations and tracks, will be deployed during 2015,

The first of the customized tunnel-boring machine needed to dig underground for the stations and tracks arrived in Qatar in April of this year. Specially manufactured by Germany-based Herrenknecht, the next four arrived two months later.

The machines will be used to cut holes 20 meters beneath the city’s ground for all the lines. Qatar Rail previously said:

“Each TBM will travel a distance of between 7-9 km and will take approx. 2 years to complete their respective journeys. The TBM average speed will be between 12m/day to 21m/day, depending on ground conditions. Daily excavation quantity will be over 600m³, with an estimated predicted total excavation quantity of over 5,000,000m³.”

Originally, officials warned residents that they may feel some minor vibrations as all 21 of the machines got to work next year. However, in June, they back-tracked, saying the tunneling would be “practically unknown to the population above.”

Change attitudes

Officials hope that the installation of a public transport system will take the pressure off Qatar’s crowded road network, which is struggling to accommodate the thousands of new cars which join it each year.

Admitting that Qatar’s road infrastructure was nearing capacity, Al Subaie warned that a “mindset and attitude shift” was needed in the state to encourage people to leave their cars at home and take the train to work.

“When the Metro has been built and put into place, we need a mindset and attitude shift from the current transport scene backed by private cars to Metro.

“At the end, it is not sustainable that everyone has their own car and we have to be very conscious towards the economic and social productivity and environmental protection of the state,” Al Subaie said in an address to military students.

However, he reiterated his warning that residents and visitors should not expect park and ride facilities at each of the stations and said that feeder buses would be provided to transport people around town to their station.

In an interview in October this year with local business magazine The Edge, Al Subaie was quoted as saying:

“In the future, you may not always be able to park your car just near to the place you would like to see … We are trying to minimize the number of cars entering the city from outskirts of Doha. So we don’t want, for example, someone to come into the city and park inside the city.”

Thoughts?