Kuwait’s Partnerships Technical Bureau (PTB) says it expects to award the transaction advisory contract for its $10bn railway project by early July.

The contract award was initially expected to be awarded at the end of 2010. Adel al-Roumi, director general of the PTB, says that he hopes to award the deal “within the next two or three weeks”.

The PTB is reviewing bids from 10 prequalified 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 $7bn metro project that is also being developed. The transaction advisory contract for the metro was awarded to a UK group comprising Ernst & Young, Atkins and Ashurst in August 2010 (MEED 12:8:10).