The Public Investment Fund (PIF) received bids on 3 June from six local groups for two advanced earthworks packages in the Al-Nufud region on its planned $2,800 million minerals railway. The packages are the first to be tendered on the rail project (MEED 2:6:06).The bidders are a joint venture (JV) of Saudi Binladin Group with the Sweilham Group, a JV of Saudi Oger with Saudi Pan Company for Trading, Industry & Contracting (SAPAC), a JV of Al-Fahd with Al-Omair, Al-Khodary & Sons Company, Shibh al-Jazira Contracting and Al-Mashreq. The successful contractor will excavate and shore up more than 200 million cubic metres of earth and fill in crevices and wadis to ensure a flat surface for the railway track laying. The first of the 42-month contracts covers a section around Hail, while the second is for the Al-Jawf area. The client will carry out technical evaluation before opening commercial bids later in June. ‘Some of the bidders could be disqualified before commercial bids are opened,’ says a source close to the project. ‘The two contracts will definitely not be awarded to just one bidder.’ The packages are the first to be tendered on the rail project, which is aimed at transporting phosphate from the Al-Jalamid deposit and bauxite from the Al-Zabirah deposit to an industrial complex at Ras al-Zour in the Eastern Province. PIF will soon announce a list of prequalifiers for the four main packages on the scheme after local and international companies submitted applications in May. A group led by the US’ Louis Berger and comprising France’s Systra, its Canadian sister company Canarail Consultants and Saudi Consolidated Engineering Services is the design and project management consultant.