Egypt’s National Authority for Tunnels is expected to invite contractors to bid for the third phase of work on Line Three of the Cairo metro in the second half of 2010.

The preliminary studies and the preparation of the tender documents were due to be ready by the end of 2009 but now face a delay of at least two to three months, according to sources close to the project.

Phase three will cover the western area of the city and will involve the construction of five kilometres of track with five underground stations.

The work will be carried out in three stages. The first involves work on the part of the line crossing the Nile, while the second and third stages will cross Cairo from north to south.

Work is already under way on the first and second phases of the project to build Line Three, which will be 30 kilometres in length once complete.

A consortium of France’s Alstom and the local Orascom Construction Industries is working on phase one, which involves the construction of a 5.5 kilometre section of track with five underground stations. This work is expected to be completed in October 2011.

Phase two involves the construction of a 7.2 kilometre section of track with four underground stations. France’s Vinci leads the consortium that won the civil engineering contract for phase two in June.

The other companies in the consortium include the local Arab Contractors, France’s Bouygues and Orascom Construction Industries. The phase two work is scheduled to be completed in October 2013.

A fourth phase of the line will connect the airport to the centre of the city.

The estimated budget for all phases of Line Three is €2.5-3bn ($3.6-4.4bn).

Cairo also plans to develop another three lines to add a further 60 kilometres to the metro network by 2022.