Abu Dhabi’s Department of Transport has received bids from consulting firms for an 18-month study into the emirate’s proposed tram system.

The bidders include a UK-based joint venture of Mott MacDonald and Halcrow, 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 feasibility and financial viability of the project, as well as prepare initial designs for the track and stations (MEED 15:10:09).

The department expects the project, known as the Abu Dhabi Light Rail Transit/Tram, to start operating in 2014.

The network will have 340 kilometres of tram lines and is one of several major transportation projects in Abu Dhabi’s so-called surface transport masterplan.

The largest part of the masterplan is a multi-billion-dollar metro network that will connect with the tram system. In October, the Adapt consortium emerged as the frontrunner for the consultancy contract on the metro project.

Abu Dhabi has yet to award the consultancy job and the Department of Transport declined to say whether Adapt remains the frontrunner.

If the consortium wins the contract, it will carry out a feasibility study and draft an outline design for the metro, followed by a detailed design of the network and its stations.

The Adapt group comprises US-based Aecom, Germany’s DB International and US-based Parsons Brinckerhoff.

If the consortium wins, it will also oversee the construction work on the metro.