| Qatar | Apr 19, 2016
Doha's growing population is putting pressure on transportation infrastructure, and luckily a state-of-the-art metro system is just around the corner.
Qatar has witnessed an unprecedented economic boom over the last 15 years, which has led to a rapid pace of expansion of its capital city, Doha. As workers and their families and business people alike flock to Qatar for the economic opportunities and in combination with Qatar’s booming domestic population, Qatar has witnessed an enormous population surge that is not forecasted to end in the near future. In fact, Qatar’s population has grown by over 700,000 people in the last five years with the figure at about 1.7 million in 2010, and 2.4 million in 2015. This represents an overall growth rate of 40% and an average annual growth rate of 7.2%.
One of the most easily identifiable and already recognizable challenges is the additional stress that has been put on Qatar’s roads. Qatar has already seen a staggering increase in the amount of cars, both commercial and private. In 2014 alone, Qatar’s passenger car market grew at 8%, which saw 86,000 registrations. Furthermore, over the 2015-2019 period, there is an expected growth in auto sales of 43%, taking new vehicle sales over the 145,000 unit mark. As such, the Qatari authorities have recognized this growing challenge of population and car growth and have understood its negative impacts on both the levels of traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions. With this, Qatar Rail is already underway on a massive metro system in the Doha metropolitan area that aims to take drivers off the road, decrease travel times, and cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Quite possibly the most visible on-going infrastructure project in the country and the world, the Doha Metro will serve both the capital and suburbs with a mainly underground rail network composed of the Red, Green, and Gold lines. The construction of these lines and the accompanying 37 metro stations compose Phase I of the overall project and are slated to be opened in 2019 to the general public. Upon their completion the three lines will represent approximately 75km of rail and have an expected 600,000 passenger trips per day by 2021. Following Phase I’s completion, Phase II is set to kick off with an expansion of the Phase I lines as well as an additional Blue Line along with 72 metro stations an additional 130km of revenue lines set for completion by 2026. Importantly, Qatar Rail states that, upon its implementation, the Doha Metro can potentially save up to 107 tons of CO2.
Since the beginning of its construction, Qatar Rail and the country’s authorities have demonstrated a steadfast commitment to reducing the overall impact of the Doha Metro’s construction on today’s traffic flow and the country’s resident’s day-to-day lives. Despite the large-scale construction efforts, Qatar Rail has looked to minimize this impact through the use of state-of-the-art tunneling boring machines (TBMs). These machines need only one point of entry and can drill right below the city streets, which have little to no effect of the foot or vehicle traffic above it. Similarly, the machines have also been utilized to reduce the risk of impact of Doha’s famously high water levels that lie beneath the city. Along the same lines, Qatar Rail has chosen to utilize these machines due to their benefit of almost completely removing the potential for over ground dust pollution in the city. With the massive scale of the project and rapid pace of its construction, Qatar was recently awarded the Guinness World Record for “The Largest Number of Tunnel Boring Machines Operating Simultaneously in a Single Project,” with 21 total machines, upstaging Qatar’s previous record of 19. As it stands today, the tunneling is approximately 20% complete, which is considered on-track for the overall project’s completion.