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Qatar's key infrastructure projects

by William Skidmore on Oct 24, 2012

Foundations for the Dubai Metro Sheikh Zayhed Road in 2007.
Foundations for the Dubai Metro Sheikh Zayhed Road in 2007.

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As Doha’s infrastructure roll-out gathers momentum, the importance of being able to build over- and underground is essential. William Skidmore looks at the estimated $20bn of projects underway in Qatar that focus on bridges, tunnels and interchanges

The most significant tunnelling activity planned in Qatar is for the Doha Metro project, which recently held a groundbreaking ceremony within developer Msheireb Properties’ Downtown Doha scheme. The ceremony took place at the site of a proposed metro station at Msheireb, which will be the hub for Doha’s proposed 85km, $3bn metro system.

Qatar Rail CEO Caad Ahmed al-Muhannadi said: “Phase 1 of the Doha Metro is scheduled to be operational in Q4 2019.” The $79m enabling works on the first phase of the project is being carried out by a JV between Austrian tunnelling specialist Porr Group alongside Qatari firm HBK Contracting and the Saudi Binladin Group.

The Msheireb Station will act as an intersection for all three of the proposed lines on the metro network, namely Green, Red and Golden. All three will be underground at Mshreib, with the Red and Green lines running parallel above the Golden line.

Al-Muhannadi said: “The Msheireb Station will meet the strictest criteria for sustainable design. Being underground will complement Msheireb’s aim to combine advanced technology with building practices that respect our local heritage and cultural traditions.”

A spokesperson for Qatar Rail’s own enabling works team said excavation works had commenced “without any difficulty or delay, mainly due to the meticulous planning and preparation over the past 12 to 18 months.”

The work will involve 60km of tunneling – a 30km route from New Doha International Airport via Msheireb and West Bay to Qatar University, and a tunnel from Msheireb to Education City, in addition to a tunnel running north from Airport City to Al Waab.

The first of a series of tenders to build elevated sections of the lines are expected to be issued before the end of the year, while tenders for the underground lines and stations are expected in Q1 2013.

Paul Groves is director and tunnelling network chair at Atkins, which employs more than 150 tunnel engineers across the world. Groves played a key role in the company’s tunnelling activities as lead designer of the Dubai Metro, which has set the benchmark for metro systems in the region.

“Until relatively recently there was not a track record of tunnelling in the Middle East, with the exception of some fairly large-scale highway cut-and-cover tunnels and small-diameter pipe jacking.

That all changed with the Dubai Metro, followed by Abu Dhabi’s deep sewerage tunnels, and this has provided a great deal of learning which will be fed into the next surge of tunnelling activity in Qatar.

“Cut-and-cover tunnelling is a tried-and-tested technique wthat remains a primary method of tunnelling for many types of projects throughout the world. However, the Dubai Metro saw the first use of tunnel boring machines (TBMs) in the region.

These can provide a number of advantages, particularly in urban areas, including Downtown Doha. TBMs all essentially perform the same task: they cut the ground and remove spoil, while allowing safe building of the tunnel lining rings, and they manage ground movements and control groundwater.

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