Companies interested in bidding for civil construction contracts for the first phase of Mecca’s new metro have been invited to prequalify. The deadline for submissions is 5 January 2014.

The metro is being built to meet the anticipated growth in religious tourists visiting the holy city during the Muslim pilgrimages of Hajj and Umrah in the coming years.

It is just one element of a wider SR60bn ($16.5bn) transport programme for Mecca known as Mecca Public Transport Programme (MPTP), which also includes a bus network.

The first phase of the project will cover the partial construction of lines B and C. Line B is 12 kilometres in length with 7 stations and to be mostly underground.

Line C covers 22km of track with fifteen stations, and the depot civil works.

Potential bidders are invited to prequalify for just one or both lines, although both packages will not be awarded to the same contractor.

According to Ali AbdelFattah, chief technical officer, at the Mecca Mass Rail Transit Company (MMRTC), once the documents are submitted, the “review process will move quickly” potentially taking less than four months. THE MMRTC is acting on behalf of the Development Commission of Mecca and Mashaaer as the project management office.

The long-term plan is to build a total of four rail lines covering more than 180km of track and 88 stations. Phase 2 will cover the construction of a 27.7km Line A, while Phase 3 will cover the construction of a 34.1km line D and a 5.5km extension to Line C.

In early July, US firm Parsons Brinckerhoff was awarded the $93.6m project management contract for the MPTP.

The metro’s feasibility study was prepared by a joint venture of France’s Systra and the US-based Aecom. The firms were appointed as consultants in April 2012.

The rail project was originally planned to be developed on a public-private partnership (PPP) basis, but in December MEED reported that the kingdom had dropped plans to procure the scheme through PPP.

Mecca’s metro plans follow the large construction contract awards made in July for the Riyadh metro project. Contracts worth $22.5m were awarded to three consortiums to build the six-line metro.