The Governorate of Damascus expects to invite consultants to bid for the concept and preliminary design for the $1.6bn Green line of Damascus metro in the second half of 2010.

The invitation to bid could be issued earlier depending on how quickly the government decides how the project will be financed.

The Syrian government is currently reviewing the feasibility study and discussing how to finance the next step of the project which comprises the concept and preliminary design for the green line.

A decision is expected this week.

“The decision is recommended by the higher levels. In the end it’s a political decision,” says a source closely involved with the project.

Construction work will start in 2012.

France’s Systra carried out the feasibility study for the Green line between 2007 and 2009 together with the Governorate of Damascus.

The feasibility study, funded by the European Investment Bank, involved deciding the alignment for the green line, where to build the stations and how to finance the project.

The green line will be 16.5km and will run southwest-northeast across Damascus from Moadamiyeh to Qaboun. It will have 17 stations.

The Green line is the first of four lines that will comprise an eventual 52km metro network around the city.

The metro is aimed at reducing congestion in the capital. It will also eventually link up with the planned Moadamiyeh railway, the Hijaz railway, Damascus International airport and the next line of the metro, the planned red line that will run north to south across Damascus.