In an important strategic move, Qatar Railways Company (Qatar Rail), has commenced a preview service for the first part of the Doha Metro's Red Line, from Al Qassar in the north, to Al Wakra in the south. The preview service includes 13 out of 18 stations on the Red Line, which are: Al Qassar, DECC, West Bay QIC, Corniche, Al Bidda, Msheireb, Al Doha Al Jadeda, Umm Ghuwailina, Al Matar Al Qadeem, Oqba Ibn Nafie, Free Zone, Ras Bu Fontas, Al Wakra.
The launch, which was originally planned for 2020, comes almost one year ahead of schedule. It is an important stage for testing the Doha Metro system with passengers, providing an opportunity to evaluate and review the performance in preparation for the full operation of the network. During this stage, Qatar Rail aims to receive feedback from passengers that will help improve its services to provide the best possible customer experience, and will devote its efforts to making the necessary evaluations to meet the expectations of the public.
Qatar Rail has announced the operating hours from 8am to 11pm on weekdays. As for the frequency of the trains, there will be a train every five minutes. The service will stop during weekends to progress the work required to open more stations and lines.
Eng. Abdulla Saif Al Sulaiti, Chief of Service Delivery at Qatar Rail, said: "The preview service, which is launched ahead of schedule, is a testament of the tremendous efforts carried out by Qatar Rail's executive teams and board of directors, as well as the continuous support of His Excellency the Prime Minister and the Minister of Interior, Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani. Thanks to his continuous support and guidance, many achievements have been made ahead of schedule, and today we stand at a turning point as the project shifts from the development stage to the operational stage. The preview service is a major opportunity to measure the efficiency of the network and the services we provide. The outputs of the preview service are essential for us, and we will build on them as we prepare for the full opening of the network by 2020."
For his part, Ajlan Eid Al Enazi, Chief of Strategies and Business Development at Qatar Rail, said: "Doha Metro is considered one of the most important pillars of Qatar's new integrated transport system. We invite everyone to experience the metro during this phase and to share with us their experience so that we can review the key factors that may affect our services in the future. We will develop solutions to address those factors to enhance the experience of passengers. It is also an opportunity for the public to get a closer look at the new transportation system, become familiar with it, and use it to help us build a customer base before the network is fully operational."
In terms of service and Travel Card pricing, Qatar Rail has conducted comprehensive and integrated pricing studies, and has introduced several categories to make Travel Cards accessible to everybody, and available through multiple sales channels. Travel Card holders will enjoy a modern, low-cost transport system, making the Doha Metro accessible to all. These factors will enhance the customer experience as well as Qatar Rail's revenue performance. There are several options available for Travel Cards, including a Limited Use, a goldclub and a Standard card.
A single journey will cost QAR 2 for Standard card holders (including Family Class), while a day pass will cost QAR 6. A single journey will cost QAR 10 for goldclub members, while a day pass will cost QAR 30. Customers can Top Up their reusable cards with Travel Credit, which can be purchased at Travel Card vending machines in all Doha Metro stations.
The goldclub card can be purchased from goldclub offices, available in all Doha Metro stations. The Limited Use cards are temporary Travel Cards that can be purchased from the Travel Card vending machines in stations. Their prices vary depending on trips and classes for either a single journey or a day pass. Standard cards can be purchased from licensed retailers including Al Meera, Lulu Hypermarket, Carrefour Hypermarket, and Jumbo Electronics. Qatar Rail has already started selling tickets through Al Meera branches, and will soon begin selling them in other licensed retailers.
In line with its continuous efforts to provide a comprehensive travel experience, and in cooperation with the Ministry of Transport and Communications, Qatar Rail has made preparations to integrate Doha Metro with other modes of transport, including feeder buses services that will take passengers to and from stations. It has also signed several partnerships with other service providers to transport passengers at a low cost.
For example, Metro Link – a complimentary shuttle bus service to and from the metro stations and their surrounding areas – has been launched to support Doha Metro's preview service. Information about the service and bus stops can be accessed through the Qatar Rail mobile application. In addition, Karwa taxi service is providing fixed tariffs for Doha Metro passengers. Other transportation solutions will be added, and reduced prices for metro passengers will be offered with other transport service providers, in the near future.
As part of Qatar Rail's aim to reduce the public's dependence on private cars, car parking areas in stations are limited. Drop off and pick up parking areas are provided in all stations, although there are some stations that have limited parking spaces and currently its only available at Al Wakra.
In a proactive step, Qatar Rail launched a special mobile application for metro services ahead of the preview service to encourage individuals to register, create an account, and link their Travel Cards. They can also use the application's journey planner to manage their trips and view the network map and current operational stations. Passengers can also receive instant updates on the status of the service, via the website, digital screens at stations, and on trains.
Qatar Rail has announced the readiness of the operational Red Line stations to welcome passengers, and flags with the Doha Metro logo to mark open stations. The Red Line stations encompass a special architectural identity – that of 'vaulted spaces'; a concept that reflects the heritage of the region by introducing open spaces that mimic traditional Bedouin tents. The design also uses ornamentations that shed light on the aesthetic elements and foundations of dynamic lighting and ventilation systems. The station mock-up brings to life the tribute that the Doha Metro station designs pay to Qatari heritage through the use of traditional elements of Islamic and local art and 'pearl-effect' interiors. The colours of the Red Line stations interiors reflect the identity of the Red Line, also known as the coastal Line, as it runs along the coastal side of Doha.
The stations are air conditioned indoor stations. Each one contains a customer service centre, a goldclub office, a police booth, separate male and female prayer areas and restrooms that cater for people with disabilities. The stations also include monitors to display journey information and train services, as well as signage to guide the visitors. All stations are equipped with security cameras and a first aid room to preserve the security and safety of all passengers.
Doha Metro is one of the fastest driverless trains in the world and will be the fastest in the region; able to reach 100 km per hour. In total, 110 trains – consisting of three cars, one of which will be for goldclub and Family Class and two for Standard class – will be delivered to Doha Metro: goldclub will have 16 seats, family 26 seats and standard 88 seats. Designed and built to world-class standards of modernity and innovation, they remain deeply rooted in the country's history and community. Their dynamic shape represents the perfect symbol of intelligence and speed. The front end of the vehicle and its lines define a shape that is powerful yet elegant, while the windows are inspired by the slender eyes of local wildlife. The design is custom made for the Doha Metro project and the interior is inspired by the progressive architecture present in the Doha skyline, once again combining traditional and modern elements.