Business Profiles

Qatar Rail. Building one of the modest modern railway networks in the world.

 

Doha Metro in Qatar’s capital city will be one of the most advanced rail transit systems in the world when Phase I becomes operational by the end of 2019 and we were fortunate enough to speak with Engineer Sultan Al-Anzi, EVP of Operations at Qatar Rail.

Underground train tunnel, blurred motion

The development of the Doha Metro, was originally planned for 2007, as part of a bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Doha. While they lost the bid to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, Doha still proceeded with the project in preparation for the 2022 FIFA World Cup which it won the bid for in 2010.

“With road travel being an extensive mode of transport, Qatar has always enjoyed a well-developed road network made up of a highway system and expressways,” Eng. Sultan Al-Anzi tells us, “The public transport that does exist is mainly provided by Mowasalat, a state-owned integrated ground transportation company.”

Recognising the importance of a reliable and aesthetically representing infrastructure, these requirements led for the proposal of a comprehensive railway network for future development in the Greater Doha area and in the state as a whole.

The rail transit system is part of the Qatar Government’s €130bn diversification and modernisation strategy, which involves public and private investments. This campaign also aims to reduce the country’s dependency on natural gas exports. The project is already underway, with contracts for the first phase being awarded in August 2012 and the ground breaking celebration taking place two months later on the 10th of October 2012. Work has started on the Msheireb interchange station, which will serve as the hub for the metro’s operations.

“The objective of the transport master plan for Qatar is to develop attractive, efficient and reliable public transport in the country,” he explains.

MASTER PLAN

Doha Metro is part of a larger railway network, which consists of five modern and flexible railway systems integrated across the Persian Gulf and Eng. Sultan Al-Anzi reveals that the larger network includes the development of passenger and freight rail transport systems, along with fast rail links to the international airport, based on the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) feasibility study.

“The master plan involves development of a metro railway system in Qatar, in addition to long-distance and freight lines connecting the emirate with the rest of the GCC,” he says, “Currently in the planning stage, the GCC network will connect six member states, namely Oman, UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain, with a 1,940km rail network.”

In August 2008, national development agency Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment appointed the German national railway company Deutsche Bahn (DB) to produce plans for a railway network in the country. It was DB International (DBI), theglobal wing of Deutsche Bahn, and Qatari Diar who prepared conceptual designs for the consolidated railway network development in Qatar.

THE PROJECT

Originally, in 2009, Qatari Diar and DB signed an agreement to form a joint venture known as Qatar Railways Development Company (QRDC), for implementing, developing and managing the conceptual design of the railway plan. In this joint venture, Qatari Diar would hold 51% and DBI 49% shares in the joint venture (JV) company.

However in 2011, Qatar Railways Company (Qatar Rail) purchased the shares held by DBI in the JV and became the sole owner of QRDC. In this regard the project is now being executed directly by Qatar Rail instead of QRDC, with support from DB International.

Estimated at costing $36billion, the Doha metro network is planned to be built in phases and will become one of the most modern railway networks in the world with four lines, namely the Red, Green, Gold and Blue metro lines, an overall length of 300km and 98 stations. Bids for the lines were submitted in 2012 and early 2013 and Phase I of the project includes construction of all four lines and two major stations. Construction of this phase has been underway since 2013 and Eng. Saltan Al-Anzi assures us that it is expected to be completed in October 2019,  three years ahead of the 2022 World Cup.

LINE ROUTES

The Red Line, also called the Coast Line, will run between Al Khor city in the north and Mesaieed town in the south via Lusail and Hamad International Airport. Divided into two major segments, namely the North Line and South Line, this line will cover 55.7km and 18 stations between Msheiredb and Al Khor while the Red Line South will serve 12 stations on a 42.8km segment between NDIA/Messaieed and Msheireb.

The Green Line, or Education Line, will run along Al Rayyan Road and link Education City with the heart of Doha. It will originate in Industry Area-South and end at Al Rayyan Stadium, covering 31 stations on a 65.3km stretch.

The Historic Line or Gold Line will connect Airport City in the north with Al Rayyan in the south, running for 30.6km covering 20 stations and the Blue or ‘City’  Line will be a 17.5km-long semi-circular line linking the West Bay and Airport City North areas along the main C-Ring Road and connecting four stations.

THE HANDS BEHIND THE PROJECT

With the stakes so high there is little room for error and the project management and consulting engineering contract for the Red Line was awarded in 2013, to Jacobs Engineering, while a similar contract for the Gold Line and the main stations was awarded to a team comprising of Louis Berger and Egis Rail. Hill International was contracted to manage the Green Line. The total value of these three contracts is estimated at $313.16m.

A QR55m ($15.1m) safety assessment contract was awarded to Lloyd’s Register in the same year.

For the Red Line North, a consortium led by Italian construction giant Impregilo and including South Korea’s S K Engineering & Construction and Qatar’s Galfar Engineering & Contracting was awarded a design contract dealing with the designing and construction of  13km twin-bore underground tunnels and seven underground stations starting from Msheireb station.

Following that, in June 2013, Qatar Rail awarded the $1.82bn Red Line South design-build contract to the consortium led by QDVC, a joint venture between Qatari Diar and France’s Vinci Construction Grands Projects. The consortium, which includes South Korea’s GS Engineering and Construction and Qatar’s Al-Darwish Engineering, is designing and building a 12.8km dual-tube underground line between Msheireb Station and the New Doha International Airport, as part of the contract.

Also in June 2013, a consortium of Austrian contracting firm Porr, Saudi Binladin and HBK Contracting Company was awarded a $2.5bn contract for the design and construction of the Green Line between Msheireb and Al Rayyan Stadium.

A consortium of Samsung C&T, Obrascon Huarte Lain (OHL) and Qatar Building Company (QBC) won a $1.4bn contract in the same month to build Doha metro’s two major stations in Msheireb and Education City.

The following year, in March 2014, the FCC-led consortium, which includes Archirodon (Greece), Yüksel (Turkey) and Petroserv (Qatar), signed a $700m contract to build a 6.97km section of the Red Line along with three elevated stations. A consortium led by Greek firm Ellaktor, alongside Yapi Merkezi and STFA from Turkey, India’s Larsen & Toubro and Qatari company Al Jaber Engineering, was awarded a $3.3bn contract for the design and construction of the Gold Line in April 2014.

In the same month, the SYSTRA-Parsons joint-venture was awarded a €170m project management and work supervision contract for Phase I of the Doha metro.

Atkins has been appointed as lead designer for the Gold Line and Red South Underground lines.

In September 2014, UNStudio was appointed as the principal architect for the Qatar Integrated Railway Project by Qatar Rail and will design more than 30 stations in Phase I of the Doha Metro project. Rolling stock contract for the metro project is expected to be awarded in 2015.

A consortium of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), Mitsubishi Corporation, Hitachi, Kinki Sharyo and Thales submitted a bid for the turnkey construction of a fully automated driverless metro system in March 2014 and received a letter of conditional acceptance (LCA) in February 2015.

The package includes 75 sets of three-car trains, tracks, platform screen doors, a railway yard, a signaling system, power distribution, tunnel ventilation and telecommunications.

MHI will lead the consortium and be responsible for overall project management, system integration and tunnel ventilation work. It will also supply the power distribution system, platform screen doors and tracks.

Mitsubishi Corporation will supply the rail cars, in collaboration with Kinki Sharyo. Advanced communications-based train control (CBTC) signaling, telecommunications and security, integrated operational control centre and automatic fare collection systems will be supplied by Thales.

Hitachi will handle project management tasks and facilities maintenance, including the delivery of special maintenance vehicles for the inspection of railway tracks and electric train lines.

INFRASTRUCTURE

The key task for the Doha metro is to link all the major locations of the city, such as the Education City and West Bay, Lusail urban development area, Doha airport, the business and conference centre and the 2022 FIFA World Cup stadiums. To achieve this, the railway lines and infrastructure will provide access through tunnels, overhead railways and at the ground level.

“Qatar Rail will build an east coast rail link between Ras Laffan and Mesaieed and a 180km high-speed link from Doha to Bahrain,” Eng. Sultan Al-Anzi says. This line will cross the Qatar-Bahrain Causeway on which trains will be able to reach a speed of 350km/h.

Other projects include a 325km freight line, 270km of which will be used for passenger services, connected to the planned GCC rail network; a light rail network serving residential developments, a 100km long-distance rail transport line to Saudi Arabia with trains having speeds of up to 200km/h and the Doha metro network.

A light rail network serving residential developments is also included within the projects, featuring a 100km long-distance rail transport line to Saudi Arabia with trains attaining speeds of up to 200km/h.

THE IMPORTANCE OF RAIL PROJECTS

Qatar Rail launched the pre-qualification process for operation of the future Doha Metro and Lusail tramway at an Industry Awareness Day on May 7 2015 where approximately 600 companies attended, including 55 in the session on pre-qualification.

The event was intended to encourage the private sector to participate in rail projects in Qatar and according to Transportation Minister, Jassim bin Saif Al Sulaiti, 15% of the companies involved in the design and construction contracts awarded for the two projects so far are from the private sector. Of these, 70% are local firms and 30% foreign.

Arcadis announced on June 23 that it is to provide architectural, branding, design and construction consultancy services for the Gold Line of the Doha metro under a €20m contract. Arcadis is already providing similar services for the Red Line South and the scope takes in design and co-ordination of architectural finishes for 10 of the 13 underground stations. This includes the design of the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, structures and landscape, as well as construction support and consultancy services. The design phase is expected to take 12 months and construction support a further 24 months.

The east-west underground line linking Airport City North with Al Rayyan South is scheduled to be completed by 2019 and is being built by the ALYSJ joint venture of Aktor, Larsen & Toubro, Yapı Merkezi, STFA Group and Al Jaber Engineering under a €3·2bn design and build contract.

Hochtief ViCon has won a contract to provide building information modelling services for a section of the Doha Metro Red Line. A 6·7 km stretch of the Red Line between Lusail and Msheireb, which includes elevated and at-grade sections. ViCon is to prepare initial BIM documents including an implementation plan and the modelling guidelines and will also co-ordinate the implementation.

Last year a consortium of Rizzani de Eccher, Lotte Engineering & Construction and Redco Construction won a US$609m contract to build this section of the Red Line.

THE LARGEST INFRASTRUCTURE SYNDICATION IN QATAR TO DATE

When the 3·65bn riyal syndicated financing package for the construction of the Doha Metro Gold Line was finalised, Barwa Bank said this was the ‘largest infrastructure syndication in Qatar to date.’

Last year, project promoter Qatar Rail awarded the ALYSJ joint venture a €3·2bn design and build contract covering the east-west line linking Airport City North with Al Rayyan South. The underground line is scheduled to be completed by 2019 as part of Phase 1 of the planned four-line network.

Barwar was the sole book runner to arrange financing for ALYSJ. The mandated lead arrangers are Barwa Bank, First Gulf Bank of Abu Dhabi and Qatar International Islamic Bank. Law firm Simmons & Simmons advised the banks and Exarchou & Rosenberg International Law represented ALYSJ.

ALYSJ comprises of Greek company Aktor SA, Larsen & Toubro of India, Yapi Merkezi and STFA Group from Turkey and Al Jaber Engineering, which is a Qatar based firm.

‘The Gold Line Metro syndicated financing is another credential that supports Barwa Bank’s status as a leading franchise in Islamic capital financing products and we thank ALYSJ for the trust they have placed in us’, said Khalid Mahdi Al-Ahbabi, Executive General Manager & Chief Business Officer of Barwa Bank.

QATAR RAIL

As project promoter, Qatar Rail has awarded the Citizen Services Group consortium a €506m contract to build a 6·97 km section of the Red Line.  As a credit to their faith in this consortium Eng. Sultan Al-Anzi explains that the consortium is led by Spanish firm FCC and includes Archirodon from Greece, Yüksel from Turkey and local firm Petroserv.

“The scope of the 31-month contract announced on March 11 includes the construction of elevated stations at Barwa Village, Al Wakra and Qatar Economic Zone, as well as a road tunnel at Al Wakra.” He says.

THE PASSENGER EXPERIENCE

The latest contract awarded by Qatar Rail sheds new light on what passengers will experience while riding the Doha Metro once the system starts operating in 2019. Coinciding with a weekend visit to Japan by Qatar’s Emir, a consortium of five firms, led by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd, has indicated that it has signed a letter of conditional acceptance with Qatar Rail. While some details of this deal have not been disclosed, it is known that it includes the sale of railway vehicles, laying of track and various systems including signals, power distribution, telecommunications and tunnel ventilation.

Automated fare collections: Thales is one of the five firms in the consortium and provides contactless systems that typically involve passengers pre-paying their fare online or at the station and then holding a card or token up to a sensor at a gate. Thales is also the company that supplied the fare collection system for the Dubai Metro. This means of payment, the predominant form in the likes of the London Underground, has proved to be highly efficient and preferred by international commuters.

Platform screen doors: Increasingly common in new and retrofitted metro systems, these are separate doors that act as a safety barrier between the platform and the tracks. Another feature is that some of the trains, akin to a system built in Dubai, will be fully automated and driverless, negating the need for human operators.

In addition to Kinki Sharyo, Thales and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the full consortium – which will also be responsible for maintaining the system for 20 years after it is completed – includes Mitsubishi Corp. and Hitachi Ltd.

According to Qatar Rail’s website, five companies and joint-ventures were invited to bid on the project. Three responded with the winning consortium including German industrial giant Siemens and a JV between Italian transportation firm Ansaldo STS and Spanish railway firm CAF.

ABOVE GROUND PLANS

Separately, another firm has announced that it has it received a US$79-million contract to act as a project management consultant for the approximately 16km of elevated and ground-level portions of the Doha Metro. New Jersey-based Louis Berger Egis Rail joint-venture is already familiar with the project, having previously been named a project management consultant for the Gold Line and major stations in 2012.

The Doha Metro is expected to be fully operational in less than five years. The first phase will consist of four lines:

  • The Red Line North, running from a connection with Lusail’s light-rail line to Msheireb via West Bay;
  • The Red Line South, running from Msheireb 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.

Doha Metro Tunnelling

Qatar Railways Company (Qatar Rail), the company overseeing the construction of the Qatar’s integrated railway network, had nearly completed 20km of tunnels dug on the Doha Metro project, a landmark that clearly highlights the progress of the tunnelling works underneath Doha city.

The update was shared by Qatar Rail during a press conference, held at the Millennium Hotel, which provided the most recent milestones shaping the path of the company’s near future undertakings; ones that will remodel Qatar’s urban landscape, infrastructure, and global role in the field of transport, shipping and logistics technologies.

Qatar Rail already received the 21 Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs) assigned for the project, after being imported from Herrenknecht, the German world market leader in mechanised tunnelling technology. Most of Qatar Rail TBMs are currently operational, with expectations to successfully accomplish the tunneling phase by the second quarter of 2017.

Eng. Abdulla Abdulaziz T. Al Subaie, Managing Director of Qatar Rail, said, “Qatar Rail has overcome many challenges to launch a successful tunnelling phase at Doha Metro project. Our philosophy is to talk about what we have achieved, rather than share intangible promises. Today, we are pleased to announce the completion of nearly 20km of tunnels out of 113km; a development that we at Qatar Rail are proud of. Thanks to all workers and stakeholders contributing to the success of this national project in alignment with Qatar’s National vision 2030, the Doha Metro tunnelling works are progressing as planned in adherence to global standards”.

The TBMs are a key component in implementing the Doha Metro innovative project; a high-tech mechanised alternative to conventional methods of design-and-build mining, drilling and blasting tunnels through everything from soft ground to hard rocks. They form circular tunnels through the rock and can install concrete linings along the drilled sections to reinforce the bored tunnel and stabilise the ground.

The Doha Metro’s Red Line has launched all tunnel-boring machines, which are Lebretha, Al Mayeda, Al Khor, Al Biddaa, Lehwaila, Al Wakra, Msheireb, Doha and Al Zubara. Tunnelling works are progressing according to plan where the accumulative dug of these TBMs reached 11880m for both northern and southern sections. In parallel, the Green Line also launched its six TBMs with an accumulative tunneling of 6653m executed by Al Rayyan TBM, Al Gharrafa, Al Messila, Al Sheehaniya, Leatooriya and Lijmailiya TBMs, while the tunneling drive recorded 150m until now at the Gold Line, which has received its six tunnel-boring machines; Lusail, Sharq, Al Sadd, Al Waab, Al Sailiya and Ras bu Abboud (Airport City North).

Eng. Saad Ahmed Al Muhannadi, Chief Executive Officer of Qatar Rail, discussed the latest updates of the rail projects said,  “During the past year, we have achieved remarkable milestones on the Doha Metro and Lusail Light Rail Transit (LRT) projects thanks to the joint efforts of the company and its contractors. Particularly, the tunnelling phase for the Doha Metro was successfully launched as we achieved great records of 11880m of tunnel dug at the Red Line, 6653m at the Green Line and 150m at the Gold Line. With a skilled team and advanced machines, we were able to tackle obstacles and ensure works are moving forward.”

Commenting on complications that may occur during the TBMs operations underground, Al Muhannadi said, “Challenges are the rule of any innovative project similar to Qatar Rail’s current endeavour and these encounters might be logistic – like finding the best way to manage excavations left-over at any site or between two different locations, or geo-technical, as no matter how good our surveys were, we will keep on discovering what the underground world is hiding, from groundwater conditions to voids and cavities,”

 He also noted, “Technical hitches cannot be avoided while implementing such a huge and complex project, however, they can be dealt with in an efficient, effective and timely manner. We were proud of the team who handled a flooding situation at Al Bidda station earlier this year, which had no delay or impact on the Doha Metro progress. When and if such incidents occur, it is our duty to react immediately.”

A presentation on the Qatar Rail projects and the tunnelling mechanism was also shared by Eng. Hamad Ibrahim Al Bishri, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Qatar Rail. The demonstration gave insight on “the other life being led underground” showing the route of each TBM operating, the machinery details and the improvement at this stage.

Qatar Rail’s interactive event was followed by a site visit to Al Sudan Gold Line Underground station, where attendees were able to inspect some of the tangible and concrete progress of Qatar Rail’s developments in general and the Tunnel Boring Machines (TBM) operations specifically.

Needing only one point of entry, TBMs can drill right below the city streets, practically unknown to the crowds above. They are also ideal for long lengths of uninterrupted tunnelling, as required by the Doha Metro project. Having limited environmental footprints, the machines have very little impact on the infamously high water levels that lie beneath Doha. Dust pollution associated with construction sites is virtually non-existent as all work takes place approximately 20 metres below the surface. The Doha Metro project is using 7 metre diameter TBMs, producing a tunnel with a diameter of 6.7 metres.

Before any tunnelling begins ‘Pre Condition Surveys’ were carried out by Qatar Rail on buildings along the route. Key Monitoring Points were installed and actions taken to ensure that all works are carried out under the safest conditions. Among three major types of TBMs – Earth Pressure Balance (EPB), Slurry Shield and Open Face – the EPB machines were selected for Doha Metro due to the nature of the country’s geological makeup. This type of TBM is ideal for use in cohesive soft ground and rock conditions. Their name is derived from the fact that the pressure exerted by the machine itself is in equilibrium to the weight of the earth above it. While the machine drills through the ground, grout is injected straight into the ground to fill the overcutting gaps, stabilising the ground

“2019 is right around the corner and so we are leaving nothing to chance and working with the very best,”  Eng. Sultan Al-Anzi advises, “Combining talent with vision is the way to achieve greatness,”


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