Is Qatar’s rail community prepared for the World Cup?

The long-awaited 2022 FIFA World Cup will kick off on 20 November, bringing an anticipated 1.2 million guests to Qatar, a rustic with a inhabitants simply shy of three million.  

Whereas this isn’t the nation’s first time holding a serious sporting occasion – having beforehand hosted tournaments such because the 2006 Asian Video games and the FIFA Membership World Cup – the swell in customer numbers will likely be far larger than something it has beforehand skilled. In 2015 and 2016, Qatar’s peak years for tourism, it attracted a median of simply 245,000 month-to-month guests

FIFA’s choice to award the rights to Qatar has confronted countless scrutiny over whether or not the nation had the infrastructure to host an occasion of such magnitude, and understandably so.  

When Qatar was confirmed because the host again in 2010, its rail community was non-existent. Nonetheless, with the formation of Qatar Rail in 2011 – established to develop, function, and keep passenger and freight rail infrastructure – Qatar has pulled out all of the stops to make sure its transport community is able to help the lots of soccer followers set to descend on the town.

A rail community match for a World Cup 

9 years after securing the World Cup rights, Qatar Rail opened the doorways to the Doha Metro, a three-line tube system spanning 37 stations throughout the capital. Carrying passengers at speeds of as much as 62 mph and connecting 5 of the eight World Cup stadiums, the system is about to play an integral function in Qatar’s transport operations all through the match. 

The Purple Line – which runs from Hamad Worldwide Airport via central Doha to Lusail, the place the ultimate will happen on 18 December – provides totally air-conditioned stations that followers will likely be free to enter and use all through the match. These with tickets to a World Cup recreation will likely be given a ‘Haaya card’, a compulsory fan ID, which is able to grant free entry to Qatar’s public transport community from 10 November to 23 December.  

Each practice will likely be outfitted with public Wi-Fi methods in a bid to maintain followers related as they journey between venues, whereas these driving in Gold Class (one in every of three obtainable compartments, alongside customary and household sections), could have entry to gadget charging factors.  

Whereas Qatar has gone to nice lengths to accommodate visiting followers, its authorities have additionally acknowledged that it’s going to make “no exceptions for foreigners who violate their legal guidelines”. With every practice on the Doha Metro community totally outfitted with CCTV, followers will should be on their greatest behaviour when travelling to and from matches. 

The Doha metro map, exhibiting stadium areas for the 2022 World Cup. Credit score: Qatar Supreme Committee for Supply & Legacy

“For those who do eat alcohol earlier than or after a match within the ‘Fan Zones’ watch out when travelling again to your resort or lodging as this will likely be thought of ‘in public’ and subsequently you can be committing against the law,” Kate Fitzpatrick, EMEA regional safety director at World Journey Safety, says.  

“Even actions like singing and dancing may very well be construed as being drunk, which is against the law, and out of doors of those zones you can be punished.” 

The Doha Metro would be the centrepiece of Qatar’s rail community through the match. Nonetheless, it comes as a part of a wider growth, which incorporates the newly-opened Lusail LRT tram system and a long-distance railway that may finally span cities throughout Qatar, in addition to different Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) international locations together with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, and the UAE. 

Is Qatar’s rail community prepared for kick-off? 

Whereas main sporting occasions usually coincide with enhancements to native transport infrastructure, the problem for a nation like Qatar was figuring out the optimum quantity of growth given its small inhabitants. 

“For Qatar, the World Cup has primarily been a ‘cash no object’ match, although it finds itself in a considerably tough place – particularly, in deciding what the optimum capability of its new transport infrastructure must be,” says Simon Chadwick, professor of sport and geopolitical financial system on the Skema Enterprise Faculty. 

“The nation has a inhabitants of fewer than three million, therefore constructing too giant a community would have been wasteful and pointless. Nonetheless, with greater than 1,000,000 folks anticipated to move to the occasion, there was a hazard that each present and new transport infrastructure could be insufficient.

Passengers travelling within the Gold Class part of the Doha Metro. Credit score: Noushad Thekkayil/Shutterstock

“Certainly, the latter does seem to have turn into a problem. The nation has already opened its previous worldwide airport to complement the brand new Hamad Worldwide Airport. There are issues concerning the metro community’s capability, which has resulted in lots of of electrical buses being purchased and metropolis centre driving bans being launched to ease issues that Doha might turn into vastly congested through the World Cup.” 

The Doha Metro usually runs 75 trains for 21 hours per day at speeds of as much as 62mph, providing a complete capability of 31,200. To ease congestion, Qatar Rail has acknowledged that it’s going to increase companies all through the match, laying on 110 trains as an alternative, which might take capability to 45,700.  

Nonetheless, in response to the Worldwide Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO), as many as 200,000 spectators may very well be travelling to matches at any given time, with host stadiums providing capacities of as much as 80,000. With ridership anticipated to be as much as six occasions larger than typical, Qatar’s vastly improved rail companies should wrestle to deal with the calls for of the World Cup. 

Lasting legacy of the 2022 World Cup 

Current enhancements to Qatar’s transport community aren’t solely because of the World Cup. Actually, Qatar Rail states that the Qatar Nationwide Imaginative and prescient 2030 – first outlined in 2008 – is the “guiding blueprint” for these developments.  

That mentioned, with the Doha Metro undertaking having set a world document for the biggest variety of tunnel boring machines working concurrently in a single undertaking, the pace at which these developments have been accomplished suggests the occasion has actually hurried issues alongside. 

“The truth is {that a} metropolis’s political will – particularly when it comes to not being globally embarrassed by a poor transport system – usually modifications when an occasion is heading in its course,” Chadwick explains. 

Whatever the causes for it, these enhancements are sure to assist ship the financial, human and social developments that the Nationwide Imaginative and prescient guarantees.  

A metrolink shuttle bus service ready outdoors a metro station to supply onward journey from the metro. Credit score: Picture Play/Shutterstock

As Qatar’s rail community takes form, it’s drastically lowering highway congestion within the metropolis. Based on the Minister of Transport and Communications, Jassim Seif Ahmed al-Sulaiti, the Doha Metro and accompanying Metrolink feeder bus service have already lowered congestion within the metropolis by as a lot as 25%.  

Whereas historic figures have put GDP loss as a consequence of congestion at 1-2%, figures from the 2021 Qatar Site visitors Report present that this halved to only 0.3% between 2020 and 2021.  

And, with the Doha Metro operating on electrical energy utilizing driverless trains that provide higher on-time efficiency, lowered service visitors, and decrease power consumption, the environmental value is way decrease too. 

“The Doha Metro is a outstanding undertaking,” Michael Looby, managing director for ByrneLooby, an engineering firm concerned within the development of Doha Metro’s Inexperienced Line, mentioned.  

“It leaves a legacy not just for the group of Doha, Qatar’s capital metropolis but in addition for the worldwide engineering group, showcasing how engineering and design can encourage, innovate and contribute to inexperienced cities.” 

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