Boring machine dismantled after completing Doha Metro tunnel section

The Al Rayyan TBM.

Chantelle D'Mello

The Al Rayyan TBM.

With tunneling on the Doha Metro roughly 60 percent complete, some of the massive boring machines that have spent months underground are starting to surface.

Residents recently caught a glimpse one of the country’s 21 tunnel boring machines (TBM) at Qatar Rail’s Al Messila site, which is both a station location and logistics center located off Jassim bin Hamad Street near Al Rayyan Road.

The Al Rayyan TBM

Chantelle D'Mello

The Al Rayyan TBM

Known as TBM S-846, or Al Rayyan TBM, the machine dug out more than four kilometers of the Doha Metro Green Line before achieving its final “breakthrough” at Msheireb central station, Qatar Rail said in a statement. The German-made machine is now being dismantled.

The Al Rayyan TBM is not the first to reach Msheireb. In June, Al Mayeda TBM broke through at Msheireb and was then transported by road to the Corniche station to start digging out the section of the Red Line towards the Doha Exhibition Center.

Earlier this year, Qatar Rail set a world record for the highest number of TBMs in operation at once.

While Al Rayyan TBM’s work may be done, more than a dozen others appear to be continuing to dig below Doha’s surface, according to an online map charting their progress.

A map showing the progress of TBMs.

Qatar Rail

A map showing the progress of TBMs.

In a recent speech to the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Qatar Rail Managing Director Abdullah Al Subaie said contractors had completed 67km out of the 113km needed for the first phase of the Doha Metro, according to a report in The Peninsula.

Doha Metro Green Line

Avi Viljoen/Flickr

Doha Metro Green Line

“Other countries take 20 years to deliver what we are looking to accomplish in five years,” he was quoted as saying.

Tunnelling is expected to wrap up next year as work shifts to laying tracks and installing various mechanical and electrical systems needed to run the mass-transit system. The 37-station network is expected to open to passengers in 2019 with four lines:

  • 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.

By 2021, residents and visitors are forecast to collectively take some 640,000 trips on the Doha Metro daily.

In another sign of progress, Qatar Rail has started the prequalification process for architectural subcontractors interested in working on station finishes, such as the roof and facade.

Other projects

The Doha Metro is one of three transit projects currently in the works.

A section of the Lusail LRT tunnel, seen in December 2013.

Peter Kovessy

A section of the Lusail LRT tunnel, seen in December 2013.

Qatar Rail is also building a light-rail transit network in Lusail, which will criss-cross the under-construction city with four lines and 37 stations. Tunneling on that project is complete, and procurement documents suggest Qatar Rail is aiming for a 2019 launch.

Progress on a high-speed, long-distance passenger and freight line is less certain. The first phase is slated to run from Education City to Saudi Arabia’s border and connect with a GCC-wide railway network.

Qatar Rail issued its first long-distance rail tender in August. Meanwhile, other GCC countries have fallen behind schedule on constructing their portions of the network, raising serious questions about whether the regional rail system would begin operating in 2018 as planned.

The regional rail line was discussed at last week’s GCC Supreme Council meeting in Riyadh.

However, the meeting’s final communique gave few insights into the substance of those discussions, stating only that delegates “(stressed the) importance of adhering to complete the required work for implementation of this strategic project in accordance with the Council’s previous decisions,” Qatar’s state news agency reported.

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