The Department of Transport has selected a Spanish team of Sener and Typsa Group for the 18-month Abu Dhabi’s Light Rail Transit system study.

The team will help the department assess the financial viability of the scheme, and prepare designs for the stations and other technical specifications, say sources close to the project.

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

The light rail was originally expected to open in 2014 followed by the metro in 2015, but these completion dates are unlikely to be met.

A group of the US’ Aecom, Germany’s DB International and Parsons Brinckerhoff, also of the US, has started work on the feasibility for the metro.

If the metro scheme goes ahead it will involve the construction of metro lines serving Abu Dhabi Island and new developments adjacent to the city. The first phase will connect the city’s downtown areas with Abu Dhabi International airport.

In January US-based Fluor Corporation was awarded the contract to manage the emirate’s transport network. The project management consultancy contract involves supervising the development and construction of a metro and a light rail system, but will also include other transport links such as buses and water taxi networks (MEED 20:1:10).

Abu Dhabi 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 government expects the population to grow to 3.2 million in future, from the current level of 900,000.