International consortiums are lining up for design and build contracts for three new high-speed rail links across the country after technical bids were opened in mid-June. Commercial offers are scheduled to be opened in early August (MEED 3:3:06).A team of France’s Alstom, Italy’s Astaldi and Spain’s Acciona is the only bidder for the first high-speed rail link, known as LGV 1, which will run 320 kilometres between Bordj Bou Arreridj and Khemis Miliana. The same team also bid for LGV 2, stretching 260 kilometres between Boumedfaa, in Ain Defla municipality, and Djelfa. The other bidders are an Italian consortium of Impresa Pizzarotti, Todini Construction, CMC Ravenna and CLF and a Spanish consortium made up of Spain’s Obrascon Huarte Lain (OHL), Cobra, Inabensa and Elecnor. For LGV 3, linking Touggourt to Hassi Messaoud in the south via a 240-kilometre-line, the US’ Bechtel is the only bidder. Two other consortiums that were originally prequalified in March, led by Vinci and Bouygues, both of France, declined to bid. Once completed, the links will enable travellers to complete the 420-kilometre journey between Algiers and Oran in less than three hours. The three lines are the first high-speed links to be tendered by the government. In total, it is aiming to build a 1,240-kilometre network serving passenger and cargo traffic by 2009. Tenders for three more high-speed links are due to be issued in September. The lines will run between Oued Tillat to the Moroccan border, Relizane to Tissemsilt, via Tiaret, and finally Oued Sly to Yellel. The government will also invite companies at a later stage to bid for the contract to operate the LGV network. The projects form part of the government’s AD 500,000 million ($6,900 million) programme to upgrade the country’s rail infrastructure.