In one of the first major construction milestones for the country’s new rapid transit network, workers have completed a tunnel that will connect light-rail stations at Qatar University and the Lusail Marina, a senior official has said.
Speaking to Doha News, Qatar Rail health and safety director Fahad Al Jaber said that the tunnel is between four and five kilometers long and is part of the first phase of the Lusail light-rail transit (LRT) project, which is on track to enter service in 2016.
Presentation boards inside Qatar Rail’s display at the Civil Defence Exhibition and Conference this week listed three stations for the first phase of the Lusail LRT. The tunnel connects the “Lusail Marina/The Pearl” station to Qatar University, while an elevated track extends the LRT line further north to a station named “Lusail Center.”
The LRT project will eventually include four lines to connect the different districts of the under-construction Lusail City. It is a separate rail project from the Doha Metro, but the two services will be integrated, along with the Long Distance Passengers and Freight Rail, to create the Qatar National Railway network.
Exact details of where the first phase Lusail stations will be located remain to be seen.
But Al Jaber said the “box” for the Lusail Marina/The Pearl stop – essentially the concrete floors, walls and ceiling of the station, which sits between 30 and 40 meters underground – is also complete.
The station is the final stop on phase one of the north-south Doha Metro Red Line, one of four rail routes that are envisioned to criss-cross Doha in time for the 2022 World Cup.
Digging up Doha
In addition to the Lusail LRT project, QRail is working to complete some 25 stations for the Doha Metro by 2018, including a train depot and two switchboxes.
Late last month, QRail announced that construction had commenced on 20 of those stations.
That explains the flurry of “enabling work” and other rail-related construction around Doha, including in Al Sadd, near the Emiri Diwan, near Katara and by City Center Mall.
Drawings of several lines were laid atop a Google Maps image of Doha and printed on a large illuminated display board at the Civil Defence Exhibition & Conference. Doha News has been unable to obtain a copy, and requests for an interview to discuss the project in more depth over the past few weeks have been unsuccessful.
Speaking to Doha News at the trade show, Qatar Rail’s Al Jaber said ridership projections have not yet been drafted, but that officials have high hopes that the Doha Metro would help alleviate the gridlock that the rapidly growing city experiences on a near-daily basis.
“Traffic is crazy today. Five, 10 years forward – think what it will be like,” he said.
An information sheet distributed at the Civil Defense trade show said the Red Line will consist of 15 underground stations when it is completed in 2018.
That doesn’t include the main Msheireb Station that will connect the Red, Green and Gold lines.
Starting at Lusail Marina/The Pearl, the Red Line heads south and includes stations at Katara, the Doha Exhibition Center, two stops in West Bay as well as stations at Al Bidda and Al Diwan before it reaches Msheireb.
From there, the line continues beneath Airport Road, with stops at B-Ring, C-Ring, D-Ring and E-Ring roads before veering east to the Hamad International Airport Rail Terminal and then the airport itself.
The scope of the Red Line South contract also includes the construction of a service line, two underground station “switchboxes” – box-shaped structures where trains change from one line to another – as well as a section of the Blue Line from Al Matar / C-Ring to Airport City North.
Like the Red Line, construction of the first phase of the Green Line is scheduled to be completed by 2018, although it is not clear when the first passengers will climb aboard.
The Green Line will start at Al Khubaib Station, which near B-Ring Road, before running north, parallel to the Red Line, to Msheireb and Al Diwan stations. It then veers west and runs beneath Al Rayyan Road with underground stations at C-Ring Road, Sports Roundabout, Al Messila and Old Al Rayyan.
The line then curves northwest towards Education City and includes stops in the southeast corner of the campus as well as the under-construction Qatar National Library.