Designs for phase 3 of the expansion of Cairo’s third metro line are being finalised, with the aim of tendering construction contracts before the end of the year.

A source at Egypt’s National Authority for Tunnels confirms that the tender will be issued next month, with the list of pre-qualified contractors to be announced shortly. France’s Systra Consulting is concluding its work on the designs.

The tenders will cover the construction of phase 3 of metro line 3. This section of the metro line extends from Attaba to Kit Kat, via Rod el-Farag and on to Cairo University. It is being built in three parts, with construction on part one to begin in October 2013 and the entire phase completed by 2018. The total length of the line will be 17.7 kilometres and include 16 stations.

Feasibility and outline designs are being conducted on a further phase of expansion to the metro line. Phase 4 will extend from Al-Ahram to Cairo airport, covering a total length of 13.5km. It is expected to be completed in four years, with construction to start in 2013.

A fourth metro line is also planned, operating between Haram district in the east and Cairo district in the west. Construction of this line has not yet begun, but the line will only become operational after the third phase of line 3 is completed in October 2018. Studies are still being conducted on this additional line, and tender documents are expected to be launched in mid-2013.

Phase 1 of the metro line 3 project was opened in February 2012 and connects Attaba to Abbasia. The line was opened less than six months after the originally planned date, despite the political unrest that hit Egypt in 2011. Construction on the second phase of line 3 started in 2009 and is due to be completed in 2013.

A consortium, led by French firm Vinci Construction Grands Projects and including Bouygues Travaux Publics, Orascom and Arab contractors, built phase 1 of the metro project and is working on phase 2.

The €235mn ($308mn) phase 1 civil engineering contract covered the construction of 4.2km of tunnels and five stations. The civil engineering contract for phase 2 was worth €323m and covers the construction of 7km of tunnels and four stations.

Although the construction of the metro has been relatively unaffected by the political upheaval in Egypt, the financing of future expansion plans including phase 3 has grown more difficult.

The EU and the French Development Agency had to step in to finance the third phase of the metro line, providing a €940m package in September.

The €940m financing package comprises a €40m grant from the EU through the Neighbourhood Investment facility (NIF), a €300m soft loan from the French Development Agency (AFD)and a €600m soft loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB). The French government also financed the feasibility studies.

Under the terms of the financing, the executive companies involved in the construction of phase 3 are required to be French.

The entire metro line is expected to be fully operational by October 2019 and will add 1.8 million extra passengers a day to Egypt’s metro system. In total, metro line 3 will cover 43km with 34 stations, connecting Cairo Airport in the east to Imbaba and Mohandisseen in the west and crossing the downturn area and Heliopolis.

By 2020, it is expected the Cairo metro will carry 5 million passengers every day.