While it is common knowledge that the 2022 FIFA World Cup will be held in Doha, Qatar, it is not as well known that another world championship is already under way.
That one is being managed for Qatar by Thales, which is setting up a world-class urban rail system that will not only carry the expected one million visitors in a comfortable and seamless way, but also boost enormously the share of public transport from 0.5 per cent today to 21 per cent in only a few years, allowing fans to reduce their carbon footprint by travelling by rail rather than by road.
“Overall, the Doha Metro will demonstrate sustainability---the theme of the Doha World Cup itself,” says Arnaud Besse, Marketing and Communications Director for Urban Rail Signalling at Thales, world leader in fully automated rail lines, with more than 330 kilometres installed worldwide.
“The Doha Metro will be a real solution to traffic congestion, and the Metro’s efficient operations will save energy. Furthermore Thales signalling systems will enable operators to adjust operations depending on consumption of electricity,” he adds.
The three lines of the Doha Metro will have a total of 110 fully-automated trains travelling over a total of 85 kilometres. They will connect the main areas of Doha, including the Hamad International Airport, the Old City, and newly developing inner city areas. And they will provide World Cup fans with speedy access to the match stadiums.
Some of the Metro’s 37 stations will be bigger than the largest existing metro stations anywhere. And all of them, with their richly decorated interiors, will make up one of the most beautiful metros in the world.
With the first trains on track, a race to the 2020 finish line
“We’re racing to the finish line,” explains Jean Saupin, General Project Manager for the Doha Metro. “The Red Line has already started operating. It will be the longest line, with 18 stations over more than 40 kilometres. The Gold Line, made up of 11 stations, is also in service. Both lines have already enabled the operator to serve commuters and tourists, as well as major events such as the Emir’s Cup in May and the Arabian Gulf Cup in December. We are able to meet the 2020 deadline thanks to the experience we have gained from our other major metro projects around the world. At one stage of the project, we had more than 2,500 people worldwide working to make it happen.”
Jean Saupin underlines the two complementary roles that Thales is playing to assure the success of this key element of Qatar’s National vision 2030 development plan.
First, it is supplying major elements of the new Metro. They include full train control system through its CBTC (Communications Based Train Control) driverless signalling, the Operational Control Centre, passenger information and announcement systems, CCTV (video surveillance) for passenger traffic management and security, and automatic fare collection (ticketing systems).
Second, Thales’s experience in successful integrated project management led to its selection as the single interface with the 8 different civil work providers and their electromechanical suppliers.
Automation for safety and efficiency
Thales VOBC (Vehicle On Board Computers) are part of Thales’ SelTrac™ CBTC signalling system. They allow the train to communicate with the rest of the system, including the wayside equipment and control centre, providing the entire system with real-time updates on the train’s speed, location and other operational information. This system-wide network assures efficiency as it ensures safety. The result is maximum capacity and minimum time between trains.
Thales’s fully integrated Operation Control Centre (OCC) ensures seamless operations on the entire Doha metro network, thanks to the provision of real-time control mechanisms. It integrates and manages data from multiple third-party systems and provides a streamlined and holistic view of the network. Through central coordination the OCC improves the response time to address an incident, and ultimately reduces congestion, emissions and journey times.
In addition, Thales communications and security systems, CCTV in stations and on board trains, advanced video analytics, and their connection via a centralised system and a fully integrated approach enhances the commuter’s journey by providing a safe and punctual rail experience.
The project is part of a wider mission to meet Qatar’s National Vision 2030 plan, –one of the goals of which is to reduce energy consumption and the nation’s carbon footprint.
As the world tries to rein in climate change, Qatar is leading the way to a greener Middle East future, with rail transport at the heart of the process.