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A Doha Metro tunnel boring machine "breaks through" and reaches the Doha Exhibition and Conference Center station site.

Qatar Rail

A Doha Metro tunnel boring machine “breaks through” and reaches the Doha Exhibition and Conference Center station site.

Work on the Doha Metro has reached another milestone after a tunnel boring machine (TBM) completed its eight-month, 1.8km journey to the future site of the Doha Exhibition and Conference Center station.

Yesterday’s “breakthrough” by TBM “Al Bidda” in West Bay was witnessed by a group of guests and Qatar Rail staff gathered for the occasion.

The end of its journey signals the excavation of some 77 percent, or 86.5km, of tunnels for the Doha Metro project, a spokesperson for the national rail company told Doha News.

Last year, Qatar Rail set a world record for the highest number of TBMs in operation at once. All 21 of the massive machines were at work last summer, though that is no longer the case.

The Al Rayyan TBM.

Chantelle D'Mello

The Al Rayyan TBM.

In December, TBM S-846 or “Al Rayyan TBM” was dismantled 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.

There are still more than a dozen TBMs at work underground, according to an online map charting their progress.

Meanwhile, the above-ground portions of the Doha Metro are also starting to take shape as construction crews build elevated platforms for the rail line out toward Al Wakrah, as well as along the Dukhan Highway toward the Mall of Qatar.

Tunneling is scheduled to wrap up later this year, when work shifts to laying tracks and installing the 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.

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.

Thoughts?

Al Mayeda TBM breakthrough at Msheireb station

Qatar Rail

Al Mayeda TBM breakthrough at Msheireb station

Qatar’s Msheireb station, which is expected to serve as a hub for the Doha Metro network, is slated to become one of the world’s largest metro stations, according to a senior Qatar Rail official.

Speaking to the Supreme Committee of Delivery & Legacy (SCDL), Dr. Markus Demmler, senior director of Qatar Integrated Rail Project, said “rapid progress” was being made on the station.

He added that overall, some 60 percent of the metro’s tunneling works has been completed.

The SCDL, Qatar’s World Cup 2022 organizing body, had been visiting the under-construction station and posted a statement on the metro’s progress on its website this week.

It quoted Demmler as saying:

“This is one of the biggest metro stations under construction anywhere in the world. The civil design stage is complete and we are now making rapid progress in the civil construction phase. Our top priority is always site safety as we continue to advance with the construction.”

When it goes online in 2019, Msheireb will link the Red, Green and Gold lines.

Concrete work is progressing and civil work is scheduled for completion toward the later part of 2017, with the station set to be complete by mid-2018, he continued.

Construction progress at Msheireb station - Dec. 2015

SCDL

Construction progress at Msheireb station – Dec. 2015

The first phase of the Metro is planned to launch in 2019 and will cover a distance of 80km, of which 63km will run underground. The Lusail Tram network will add a further 38 km in phase one and will be completed in 2019, SCDL said.

Previously, SCDL said the 37-station metro is expected to carry 447,000 passengers in its first year of service, 2020. The following year, passenger numbers are forecast to jump to 639,000 and will continue 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.

Tunnel breakthroughs

In the latest statement, Demmler also said that half of the 12 tunnel boring machine (TBM) breakthroughs scheduled for the Msheireb station have already taken place.

Construction progress at Msheireb station - Dec. 2015

SCDL

Construction progress at Msheireb station – Dec. 2015

A total of 21 TBMs have been digging out underneath the city to create the metro network. Earlier this year, Qatar Rail set a world record for the highest number of TBMs in operation at once.

In June this year, Al Mayeda was the first tunnel boring machine to break through at Msheireb after digging out 2.3km underground.

Just a few hundred meters from its destination, the TBM hit an unexpected, underground water source, which delayed its works for several days while engineers resolved the issue, Qatar Rail said at the time.

It was then transported by road to the Corniche station to start digging out a section of the Red Line toward the Doha Exhibition Center.

TBM S-846, or Al Rayyan TBM, dug out more than 4km of the Doha Metro Green Line before achieving its final “breakthrough” at Msheireb central station, Qatar Rail said in a statement earlier this month.

Network schedule

Tunneling 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.

Doha Metro Phase 1 map

Qatar Rail

Doha Metro Phase 1 map

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.

In the second phase, a further 70 stations are expected to be added to the network as existing lines are extended further out of Doha, a parallel Gold line is built west of Msheireb and a semi-circular Blue Line is created.

This is expected to loop from West Bay through Al Sadd and toward the airport on a route that appears to roughly follow C-Ring Rd. Completion of phase two is currently set for 2026.

Thoughts?

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.

Thoughts?