Rail spearheads transportation plans in Qatar
Qatar is building a freight and passenger rail network that will span 525 kilometers when it is completed, as well as embarking on a major national road redevelopment program.
Transport by road is the only means of getting around Qatar and, with the road network seriously underdeveloped, congestion is rampant. During peak hours, trucks are banned from Doha, but principal arteries are still regularly clogged. This will only get worse as the population grows, visitor numbers increase and project activity builds, requiring manpower and supplies to be moved to and from sites around the country.
The freight railway will run from the industrial city of Ras Laffan in the northeast to the New Doha Port at Mesaieed in the southeast. The line will have a spur to the gas processing facilities in Dukhan in the west. When complete, it will have the capacity to carry 11 million tons a year of cargo.
The country’s metro project, meanwhile, is 18% complete, according to an announcement made by the Ministry of Transport HE Mr. Jassem Saif Al-Sulaiti. The USD 21 billion Doha Metro will play an important role in moving people around the city during the FIFA 2022 World Cup, although its final stages will not be completed until 2026. The metro will have four lines, with 93 stations spread over 354 kilometers of track. It includes connections to town centers, stadiums and commercial and residential areas, running underground in central Doha and above ground or along elevated sections in the city’s outskirts.
Directly addressing the problems with the roadways, Ashghal has been tasked with upgrading and expanding the road network in the capital and across Qatar. It has divided this challenge into two parts: the USD 20 billion expressway program will provide transportation links across the peninsula, connecting key cities, towns and villages with modern national freeways and urban arterial routes; and the USD 14.6 billion Local Roads and Drainage Program (LRDP) will upgrade and expand existing roads and drainage networks across the country.
The expressway program comprises 30 highway schemes around the country, including new and upgraded freeways, expressways and arterial roads, as well as major upgrades to existing roads. The program should deliver about 900 kilometers of new roads, as well as underpasses, flyovers and multiple-level interchanges.
Two of the major road projects most recently announced have been the Rawdat Rashed project and the Lusail Expressway. Rawdat Rashed is expected to be converted into
an international expressway as a means to avoiding some of the major accidents occurring on the road. These accidents occurred as a result of the long, single-lane roadway having poor support in terms of infrastructure and lighting. The 5.8 kilometer Lusail Expressway will meanwhile be the first in the country to extend over infrastructure tunnels supporting drainage and electricity cables, in addition to the tunnels needed for the 1106 meter light rail transit (LRT) line. The project is nearly 40% complete, and is expected to be activated during the second quarter of 2017.
The country continues to see progress in its other points of access. The New Doha International Airport Steering Committee is expected to tender construction work next year for the expansion of the hub at the Hamad International Airport. The upgrade will add 24 contact gates and extend the terminal to 900,000 square meters, with capacity for 50 million passengers a year.
The USD 20 billion expressway program will provide transportation links across the peninsula, connecting key cities with modern national freeways and urban arterial routes; and the USD 14.6 billion Local Roads and Drainage Program (LRDP) will upgrade and expand existing roads and drainage networks across the country
The New Doha Port continues its Phase 1 development plan, which will have a capacity of 2 million TEUs a year and 2 million tons of general cargo when it opens in 2016. By 2025, further phases will add a new container terminal, taking capacity to more than 12 million TEUs.
The port will include facilities for general cargo, offshore supply vessels, a terminal for the import of vehicles, and a large dock terminal. A new base for the Qatar Emiri Naval Forces will also be built offshore for the country’s navy and visiting naval vessels from around the world. Meanwhile, plans are underway to convert the current Doha Port so it can be used by cruise liners once cargo operations move to New Doha Port in 2016. In 2011, the government suggested 6,000 rooms on cruise ships would be used to accommodate football fans visiting Qatar for the World Cup.