Posted by: Barrak Al-Babtain | May 14, 2009

Kuwait Metro

I wake up, fall out of bed. I drag a comb across my head. Find my way downstairs and drink a cup. I grab my keys, start my car and drive to the closest Park and Ride station; Bayan. It takes a few minutes to get there, long enough for me to enjoy a song or two. I park my car on the fifth floor. It’s crowded today.

Standing on the escalator I notice a bunch of kids downing McFlurries. I didn’t know the Bayan station had a McDonalds. I hear the train pull in and I start walking up the rest of the way. On the train I can never see my house, we go underground too soon for me to catch a glimpse of it. After a few short stops i’m out at the Jaber Al-Mubarak station and walking across the street to my office.

dubai-metro123456

KUWAIT, Aug 17, 2008 (KUNA) — “The Ministry of Communications has referred to the cabinet its report on the construction of an underground metro network and laying railway tracks, said Minister Abdulrahman Al-Ghunaim on Sunday.

In a press statement, he said the higher committee tasked with studying this vital project had approved the feasibility study conducted by Kuwait Transportation Union.

The higher committee, headed by the Communications Ministry, groups representatives of many relevant government bodies.

He noted that this vibrant project fell in line with the directives of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah to transform Kuwait into a financial and commercial center, and reflected the emphasis that the government placed on the project as a mobilizer for commerce and national economy.

Al-Ghunaim noted that the project would serve to reduce traffic congestions, which he said had become a phenomenon.

The report has been referred to the cabinet, which in turn will refer it to the joint services-economic committee, he explained, adding that an authority would have to be established to oversee these projects.

The minister also noted that the private sector would have a leading role to play on this project.”

——–

A proposal for an inner-city rail network in Kuwait City has been kicking around our Ministries for a long time now. For several political and financial reasons it has never really taken hold. In between long silences news is broadcast declaring a new step taken, or a proposal outlined. This self imposed delay has allowed the project to avoid being fast tracked during the boom years where it could have been rushed without the proper care and planning such an national endeavor requires. We here at re:kuwait will be analyzing the feasibility of such a project and its urban ramifications.

Kuwait City Metro Map

This map of the proposed ‘Kuwait City Metro Network’ is the only evidence I could find that this project exists. It was scanned from an issue of MEED A quick look at the map reveals that they are concentrating on Hawally/Salmiya, the City, and the Kheitan/Farwaniya areas. It seems fair to say that the priorities of this proposal are identical to those of existing bus routes; with the exception of the additional stops at universities, sports arenas and malls. Who designed this map? What were their intentions and what problems were they hoping to solve?

Since we do not have any answers to those questions, we will make some up ourselves. Why do we need a Metro System?

  • Reduce traffic congestion
  • Create new urban nodes and help decentralize the city
  • Lower carbon emissions
  • Provide alternative transportation methods
  • Potential revenue from passenger and development at train stops
  • Reduce the number of cars needed to ease parking dillemas

What are the major obstacles to realizing the project? What are the parties that will end up suffering as a result of its succesful completion? Are there any inherent dangers specific to Kuwait, its geology, culture and politics?

  • Ticketing alone will never be enough to reimburse to cost of investment
  • Underground routes will require intensive excavation under residential areas
  • Kuwait has a low water table which is polluted with H2
  • The investment is enormous and the credit crisis has dried up funding
  • The fear of ending up with a system that works but nobody bothers to use
  • Rushing into a badly designed system simply to catch up and compete with regional rivals
  • Automobile dealerships and supporting services will feel threatened by the competition

In the following weeks we here at re:kuwait will attempt to analyze the project and design a solution. The posts will then be aggregated and combined into the Kuwait Metro page accessible in the link shown in the bar above. We hope that whatever insights we discover into the urban potential of this project be used in the real thing should they ever decide to wake up.

Kuwait Metro Map White

This map is just a taste of what’s to come. We will be analyzing every route and interchange and imagining what it would look like in reality with photo-collages and renderings. We hope that you’ll join us in the weeks ahead and be involved with us in any way you can. If we stop complaining and propose solutions we can reinvent Kuwait.


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