Etihad Rail Company has extended the deadline until 18 May for prequalified companies to submit bids for the civil engineering contract for the first phase of the UAE’s $11bn federal railway.

This is a two-week extension, as the initial deadline was set at 4 May (MEED 1:3:11).

The estimated AED2bn civil engineering contract includes civil structures, systems, facilities and track work. Etihad Rail has prequalified about 20 companies for the contract, but a number of companies are thought to have dropped out of the running, disappointed in the way that the tender process is being carried out. The time schedule of the project is just one area of concern.

“[Time] is tight and nothing much [can be] done other than polish our graphics and review final number – no engineering will take place to add value to the client. But it is better than nothing,” says a contractor.

In April, a US-based team of Aecom with Parsons International won the project management consultancy (PMC) for the first phase of the railway.

The UK’s Atkins will carry out preliminary engineering for the entire UAE railway. The first phase of the railway involves building a 265-kilometre track between the port of Ruwais and gas fields at Shah and Habshan. The first part of the work will involve building the line from Ruwais to Habshan, which will be able to transport 10,000 tonnes a day (t/d) of granulated sulphur. This will increase to 20,000 t/d when the line is completed to Shah.