Companies leading the groups of prequalified consultants include France’s Systra, which drew up preliminary and basic designs for line 3, and Japan’s Pacific Consultants International, which is drawing up detailed designs for the expansion scheme. The two studies are funded by the French and Japanese governments respectively. The European Investment Bank (EIB) has provisionally agreed to provide some Eur 200 million ($230 million) towards the total cost of the project.

The list of prequalified contractors also shows a strong turnout from Japanese and French firms, which together represent 19 of the 37 shortlisted companies. These include French contractors Alstom, which is prequalified for three of the packages on offer, and Vinci. Both companies were part of the Interinfra consortium, which did most of the work on line 1 and also carried out a $57 million extension of line 2. Japan’s Mitsubishi Corporation, which also did work on both lines, is prequalified for two of the packages. The tunnels authority has not yet decided whether the packages will be awarded individually, or in groups (MEED 22:2:03).

When it is completed, the 33-kilometre metro line will connect the western districts of Cairo with the international airport. Prequalified companies have not received any further details about the tendering schedule for the project, but local contractors say the government is keen to push the metro expansion forward as it forms an integral part of Cairo’s bid to host the 2010 World Cup finals. FIFA is due to announce its decision on 20 May 2004. The metro extension will also help access from the airport and central Cairo to Giza, where new hotel and tourist developments are expected to be built near the planned Grand Egyptian Museum (MEED 14:11:03).