On 7 December 2017, Qatar Rail, the Qatari national public transport operator, awarded RKH Qitarat — the joint venture based on a consortium between RATP Dev and Keolis (49%) and the Qatari company Hamad Group (51%) — the operations and maintenance contract for the new automated metro of Doha, the capital of Qatar with more than two million residents, and a light rail network in Lusail. Lusail is located 15km from Doha’s city centre and is currently being built and, once completed, is expected to house 240,000 residents.
This major urban project is one of the most important for the region as 90% of the Qatari population currently live in Doha and its surrounding suburbs (equivalent to 2.6 million people) and 80% of which are foreign workers.
Qatar Rail is currently in charge of building the new integrated urban transport network, which will include both the Doha metro and Lusail light rail.
The Doha metro will be completely automated and driverless with 75km of track and 37 stations. It will be equipped with Communications Based Train Control (CBTC) technology — a control system based on WiFi communication between vehicles and the computers controlling traffic — and will initially consist of three lines:
- The Red line, which will serve the Lusail City International Airport in just 36 minutes, and connect with the metro network.
- The Green line, which will link Al Mansoura, to the east, to Al Riffa, in the west, and serve 11 stations.
- The Gold line, which will serve the Khalifa International Stadium, completed in 2016.
The first part of the network will be largely underground and should carry 640,000 passengers a day, starting from 2021.
The Lusail light rail network will cover 18km of track and consist of four lines serving 25 stations in total. What makes this light rail different is that 50% of the network will be underground. The construction of the light rail network is expected to end in 2020.
The mobilisation phase prior to the launch of this network will only last a year, an extremely short timeframe compared to the 18 months usually accorded for this stage of the project. Therefore, RKH Qitarat will have to recruit and train its new employees in less than 12 months. Over the next three months, the number of employees will increase to 100, in order to reach the 1,500 employees required in two years time.
The largest public transport network in Qatar, its construction was deemed necessary, especially as the country will host the soccer World Cup in 2022. The opening and closing matches of the competition will take place in Lusail. Keolis and RATP Dev are already partners for major special events, and will share with the Qatari government their expertise in multimodal operations to ensure the highest level of service and the best customer experience possible for all Doha and Lusail residents, as well as all supporters visiting for the World Cup.
The development of public transport is a key priority in ‘Qatar Vision 2030’, the strategic plan established in 2008, which has served the government as a road map for the emirate’s economic, social and environmental development. The Kingdom of Qatar has strong development ambitions, and seeks to become a global reference for smart cities. After significantly developing its road infrastructure, the Kingdom has made major investments in urban mobility and public transport in order to reduce serious congestion on its major roads.