The five prequalified consultants are understood to include, France’s Systra, the UK’s WSP Group, and Louis Berger and Parsons Brinckerhoff, both of the US. A total of 19 consultants were invited to prequalify earlier this year. The World Bank is adviser on the tendering process (MEED 24:2:06).

The scope of works on the year-long study will cover several elements, including route alignment, the extrapolation of topographical and statistical data, creation of a legal model, passenger and freight configuration, port integration and financing and development options. Once completed, it will create a framework for the next stage in the development of the estimated $5,500 million project. Completion of the scheme is expected to take at least six more years.

The scheme’s preliminary study, completed two years ago by a US/Kuwaiti team of Parsons Brinckerhoff and Global Investment House, proposed two routes for the network. The first runs from Muscat through the UAE and Saudi Arabia before terminating in Kuwait. The other option includes incorporating both Qatar and Bahrain into the network. This route is more expensive, but offers a higher rate of return.