Making Tracks: Lusail Light Rail Transit System

February 12, 2018 in Transport

Qatar Rail have made steady progress on the Lusail Light Rail Transit (LRT) system in the new city of Lusail.

The LTR system has been designed to serve the residents of the visionary waterfront city development. The railway will connect the schools, shopping centres, and medical facilities of Lusail in a convenient and environmentally friendly way. In addition, the LTR will link to the Doha Metro, which will create easy access to the capital city. The project, along with Doha Metro and the Long Distance Passenger and Freight Rail transportation system, will be a part of Qatar’s $30bn integrated transportation system plan. Managing Director of Qatar Rail, Abdulla bin Abdulaziz bin Turki al-Subaie said that “trade among the GCC countries is currently growing at 5% per annum, and the added infrastructure will boost this figure further”

The first line of the light rail network, the Yellow Line, is scheduled to open in 2018. The remaining three lines are expected to enter commercial service in 2020.

Construction on the tram lines are underway. The LTR will feature four main tram tracks, which will span 33.1km in length by the time of completion. Broken down, this figure represents 10.4km of underground track and 22.7km of ground level and elevated tracks. It also includes a 0.5km track between two high-rise buildings. It will feature approximately 8km of single track and 25km of double track.

The rail network will be home to 37 passenger train stations, including 26 at ground level, 10 underground, and one at an elevated interchange station. The interchange will serve the tram running on a viaduct across Al Khor Highway.

Lusail’s LTR will also connect to the Doha Metro Red Line north via two stations; the Lusail main station and the Lusail Marina (Pearl) station.

According to Railway, ground-level stations will be found in the northern quarter of Lusail City, featuring centre, side and split-side platforms. So far, “these stations will connect Fox Hills district, the Northern Residential district, the Medical and Educational districts, the Golf district and Lusail City’s plaza.”

In the southern part of the city, 8km of underground tracks will link various residential districts. Once completed, they will serve underground stations in the Marina district, Energy City, Qatar Entertainment City, Qatar Petroleum District and the Pearl station. These links will prove hugely important, and Qatar Rail has made efforts to place walking and biking facilities, and feeder buses, in the neighbourhoods around the stations to enlarge the catchment areas. The technology for ticketing, delivery planning and journey updates will also be developed to a high standard of service.

A large chunk of the overall project has already been completed. Earthworks and excavations for the cut-and-cover tunnels, project Phase 2A, began in March 2009 and then Phase 2B, the tunnel construction, started in March 2010. The preparation and preliminary works for the underground stations commenced in June 2011.

By June 2014, all of the excavation works and more than 7km of the tunnels were completed, alongside the timely completion of the access viaduct on Al Khor highway. The main civil works of seven underground stations and four above-ground stations were also completed by that time.

The build will include a service depot with maintenance and storage facilities, as well as a test track.

The final packages, Phases 2C2 and 2C3, include all of the remaining construction necessary to deliver a fully operational turnkey project. This includes depot, architectural and electromechanical works, rolling stock, track works, power supply and train control and communication systems. This phase is being executed in a consortium with Alstom.

The Lusail LRT network has been undoubtedly well designed. All trams can run on a catenary-free electrification system, except inside the tunnels, where a dual-power connection with a catenary system will be installed. With Alimentation Par le Sol (APS) technology, there will be no need for overhead cables, because each tram car will be fitted with a ground-level power supply from a third rail.

A well-designed tram system deserves a well-designed tram. Alstom Citadis will provide 35 trams for the Lusail LRT. The 32m-long, 100% low-floor trams ensure easy access for passengers. Each tram is 33 meters long in single unit and can accommodate 207 passengers in “common” and “family” classes. The trams can be easily coupled in order to double their capacity.

The design of the Lusail tram mimics the shape of the Dhows, the traditional boats used around Qatar. The front of the trams are shaped like the bow of a vessel. Additionally, the tram’s blue colour scheme reflect the qualities of the sea. Inside the tram, there will be touches of yellow that resemble the Lusail flower.

Commenting on the appearance of the trams, Eng. Abdulla Al Subaie, Qatar Rail’s Managing Director said:

“Across our projects, our build and design stages have been guided by the powerful coming together of tradition with modernity. Deeply entrenched in Qatari culture and heritage, the Lusail tram designs celebrate the convergence of our country’s history with ground-breaking technologies and cutting-edge solutions. We are creating a seamless consumer journey and experience built around the local community’s needs and values.”

Gian Luca Erbacci, the Senior Vice President for Alstom Middle East & Africa, furthered this. He said:

“There are currently more than 1,800 Alstom light rail vehicles in operation throughout the world. Each Citadis has its own specific design and is customized to reflect its city’s image and culture. We are very happy to have partnered with Qatar Railways to come up with a unique design that will certainly please the passengers and residents of Lusail”

The transportation developments stand Qatar in good stead for achieving ‘The National Vision 2030.’ According to official sources, the National Vision 2030 aims at transforming Qatar into an advanced country by 2030, capable of sustaining its own development and providing for a high standard of living for all of its people for generations to come. It aims to guide economic, social, human and environmental development of the country; this involves a continued investment in world class infrastructure, public services and the labour force.

Economically speaking, Qatar Rail has encouraged the private sector to participate in rail projects in Qatar. The share of contracts awarded to the private sector within the scope of the Lusail LTR project reached 70%, versus the 30% that was awarded to international companies.

In addition, the private sector’s share of participation in the joint ventures of designing and building the Doha Metro and Lusail Tram projects is 15%. Similarly, 61% of the contracts have been awarded to local manufacturers of raw materials and transportation equipment to complete the cement, sand and iron work on these developments.

Lusail LTR will be the second tramway system among the Gulf nations to be equipped with Alstom’s APS technology after the Al Safouh Tram Project in Dubai.

The QDVC joint venture, comprising Lusail city’s developer Qatari Diar and French contractor Vinci Construction Grands Projects, is the main design and build contractor for the Lusail LTR project.

The Systra-led design team includes Atkin and Hyder Consulting. Systra will supervise the design activities of the project. This includes the use of station architecture, power supply, alignment, depot lay-out, equipment and rolling stock. The preliminary designs and drafting of the bill of quantity (BOQ) for the depot and stations are undertaken by Atkins.

AECOM and Parsons have made a joint venture to manage the construction of the light rail transit system under a five-year contract with Qatar Rail. RMD Kwikform is providing an integrated formwork and shoring for the underground tunnels.

The Managing Director of Qatar Rail told Oxford Business Group: “We are still on schedule to open the first three lines of phase one of the Doha Metro and the Lusail LRT by the end of 2020.”

A timely completion of the LTR will bring Lusail the kind of reliable infrastructure that will apprehend the growth and possibilities of a productive, efficient Qatar.