Kuwait’s Partnerships Technical Bureau (PTB) says it will definitely award the transaction advisory contract for its $10bn railway project in the second quarter.

The award was initially expected to be made by the end of 2010.

The PTB prequalified 10 groups to bid for the deal. In September, the PTB said it had received prequalification documents from 29 groups.

Kuwait is planning to build the railway on a public-private partnership (PPP) basis and the transaction adviser will have to assist in structuring, procuring and negotiating the transaction. The successful adviser will also assist the PTB in planning the technical aspects of the railway, developing feasibility studies and establishing project financing.

The PTB will assign an independent operator at a later date to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the railway for a fixed duration.

The first phase of the railway will run 245 kilometres from the border of Iraq to the border of Saudi Arabia. It will later comprise spurs that will serve Kuwait’s three main ports at Shuwaikh, Shuaiba and Bubiyan.

The railway will also feed into the metro project that is also being developed. Both the railway and the metro are part of the PTB’s plan to oversee 32 privatisation projects over the next four years, which are expected to generate $28bn (MEED 24:8:10).