Companies have until 28 February to submit qualification statements. The SRO will issue a notification of prequalification in the second quarter of 2007 with a view to issuing a request for proposal by the third quarter. Companies will then be invited to submit bids by the first quarter of 2008. The project is expected to be completed within four years.

The MMRL will be developed on a long-term, design-build-operate-transfer (DBOT) basis, although the exact concession period has still to be disclosed. According to the prequalification documents, consortiums applying must include among their members a high-speed technology provider as a leader, an experienced passenger service operator, world-class civil and electro-mechanical contractors and financial investors. The project will comprise the construction of about 450 kilometres of high-speed electrified railway line equipped with modern signalling and telecommunications systems and the provision

of state-ofthe-art trainsets (MEED 17:3:06).