The five prequalified groups are now required to submit technical bids for the rolling stock and electro-mechanical parts on 1 November. A 31 January deadline has been set for bidders to submit their proposals for the civil works package, commercial offers and suggested financing solution.

The selection process is due to be completed in mid-March and will be followed by contract negotiations with the preferred bidder. The contract is due to be signed on 2 May. Under the schedule, construction could begin as early as mid-2006.

According to Nasser Saeed, Dubai Municipality’s director of the roads department and general co-ordinator of the Dubai LRT scheme, the bidding consortia will have to provide 90 per cent of the project’s financing. The Dubai government will put in the remaining 10 per cent and will offer guarantees. The successful consortium will recoup its expenditure over a period of 12-20 years, with the exact timeframe yet to be determined by the client.

Saeed said that the project’s cost had been reduced to AED 6,500 million-7,000 million ($1,800 million-1,900 million) from the originally budgeted AED 8,500 million ($2,300 million) by making adjustments to the project designs, including the moving above ground of a number of stations originally planned to be underground.

The scope of works under the 48-month contract includes tunnelling, construction of stations, depots and line facilities, electro-mechanical works and the relocation of some public utilities. Phase 1 calls for the construction of two light transit lines over 70 kilometres, of which about 30 per cent will be underground. The rolling stock will comprise fully automatic, driverless trains.

Systra, which was awarded the $12.7 million design-engineering contract for the LRT scheme in March last year, is also assisting the municipality in the tender and bid evaluation process. The client has yet to select a consultant to oversee construction, although Systra is widely expected to win the mandate due its involvement in the design phase.

The municipality is also being assisted by French audit and consulting firm RSM Salustro-Reydel.