Abu Dhabi’s Department of Transport is to hold meetings in mid January with selected bidders for a feasibility study into the emirate’s proposed tram system.

Following the meetings, the department will select a consultant to carry out the 18-month study into the planned Abu Dhabi Light Rail Transit system.

In early November last year, the transport authority received bids from at least 10 international consultant groups for the contract to carry out the study. The bidders include a UK-based joint venture of Mott MacDonald and Halcrow, a group comprising France’s Systra with US-based Parsons International, and a US team of Parsons Brinckerhoff and Aecom.

The winning consultant will help the department assess the financial viability of the scheme, and prepare designs for the stations and other technical specifications.

If it goes ahead, the tram scheme will involve laying 340 kilometres of light rail track. It will open in 2014 and will connect with the proposed metro system, which is due to be completed the following year.

In October, the Department of Transport selected a group of Aecom, Germany’s DB International and Parsons Brinckerhoff to act as the consultant.

The metro and the tram are two of the most important transport projects planned for Abu Dhabi, and form part of the wider surface transport masterplan, which was launched in April last year.

The Department of Transport is in the process of selecting a project manager to oversee the implementation of the masterplan after receiving bids for the contract in October last year.

In total, the emirate plans to spend $68bn on upgrading its transport infrastructure by 2017.

The most urgent schemes are the ones on Abu Dhabi Island and the surrounding areas, where the population is expected to grow to 3.2 million from its current level of 900,000 in coming years.