The 131-km Doha Metro Railway will have at least 48 stations and half of the entire facility would be built underground at depths up to 50 meters. In a presentation, Qatar Rail commercial manager Stephen Lines disclosed that the elevated portion of the Metro railway is 48km long. Construction has started this year and it is expected to be completed in 2019.
He said the light rapid transit (LRT) system will run in populous areas like West Bay and Lusail, allowing residents to move around the city. Population and existing businesses are two of the main criteria for the location of stations.
"These will all be linked by the network and obviously linking the stadiums, so all these factors are being considered on the design of the network," he noted. "I can see Qatar becoming like London where you have the suburbs and the home country that you like."
To accomplish this in time for phase 1 delivery, some 26 tunnel-boring machines will be used for the said project. "If you put that in context at the moment, the new system being used in London has six boring machines. We are talking about 26," said Lines, who is also the Middle East regional president of Chartered Institute of Building.
For the 400-km distance and rail freight system, it will have seven stations and six freight yards connecting with GCC countries.
"The freight system will be the first to be implemented, a key in bringing in the materials and to help keep the flow within Qatar to achieve the 2022 World Cup and beyond," he stressed.
"We see the Qatar Rail as a legacy. The legacy runs way beyond the FIFA World Cup," said Lines, adding that the total budget is being funded by the Qatar government.
Some of the challenges were cited in working on a huge project like the railways system.
He disclosed that the 26 tunnel-boring machines are expected to create 17mn cu m of soil "which is seven times the volume of the pyramids in Egypt."
They will also use 800,000 tons of steel, equivalent to 100 Eiffel towers; over 5mn cu m of concrete which is 14 times the amount used in Burj Khalifa in Dubai.
He said the Mushreib station alone will use more concrete and steel than the Burj Khalifa . "The only difference is that it will be underground."
However, he expressed confidence that all the projects will be delivered on time.
"The first five main packages, redline north are now under LOA with the contractor. The major stations, redline south, greenline… all the four main lines and main hobble network are very close to being awarded," he said. "Track work which will link through the systems are rolling stock packages, again will be well underway first quarter 2014."
He also reiterated the importance of testing and commissioning. But they need to achieve international standards first before getting the green signal.
"Our aim is to have the system up and running by quarter fourth 2019 way in advance for the World Cup. We have a very strong team who are working for mitigation risks to make sure we deal with the risk before it happens," he said.
The next step will be approval of the architectural branding and awarding of contracts since most of the land acquisitions have been finished.
"But more work is to be done – elevated and upgrade packages to be finalized and put out the tender. The project management consultants are appointed in our own board for the main metro projects and we are very close in finalizing the appointment of contractors," he said.
Lines believes that close collaboration with state authorities, forming effective partnerships and learning from other railway systems around the world would be the key to successfully finish the project.
When asked about the kind of energy that will be used for the railway systems, he said the Qatar government had been continuously looking for possible ways in producing power besides oil and gas.
"For sustainable future, the Qatar government has some pretty investment plans on how they can achieve it – all of our network will be built using diverse power system," he added.
"In the future, no one knows, we could have the first solar-driven train."
Lines said the construction of the railway system will also pave the way for the drafting of the Qatar Railway Law.