Qatar Railways Company (Qatar Rail) has extended the prequalification deadline to 1 June for construction contracts on the country’s Long Distance Rail Network, which will be part of the GCC regional railway.

Contractors had previously been asked to return prequalification documents by 11 May. Tenders for the first phase construction deal will then be released to a shortlist of prequalified firms in late August. A contract award is expected in mid-March 2015.

Phase one of the multibillion-dollar scheme is due to be completed in 2018. It involves building a 146 kilometre-long rail line from the border with Saudi Arabia to Mesaieed and the New Doha Port Project on the east coast of the peninsula and an inland station known as Doha West International that will connect to the Doha Metro.

The line will be used for both passenger and freight services. The maximum speed for passenger services will be 200 kilometres an hour (km/h), and the maximum speed for freight trains will be 120km/h.

The first phase has been split into three areas. Area 1 will be a 71km section of line that connects the Saudi border and a junction to the southwest of Doha. The construction work will include 800,000 cubic metres of cut and fill, 14 highway bridges, one 160-metre-long rail bridge over a highway, 10 pipeline crossings, and 14 culverts and camel crossings.

Area 2 will involve the construction of a 32km line from the junction to the southwest of Doha to an intermodal freight yard, and a 30km line running on from the yard to the Mesaieed port and industrial area. The construction work includes 900,000 cubic metres of cut and fill, nine highway bridges, four rail bridges over highways ranging from 50 metres to 465 metres in length, 22 pipeline crossings, and 12 culverts and camel crossings.

Area 3 will involve the construction of 23km of passenger line to the Doha West International station. The construction work involves three rail bridges crossing highways and seven pipeline crossings.

Phase two of the scheme is expected to be completed by 2021 and involves the construction of a 171km railway line that will connect the Doha West International station to Bahrain and Hamad International Airport. The maximum speed for passenger services on this line will be 350km/h.

Phase three, which is planned to be completed in 2027, will involve building 80km of railway line. This will cover the dualling of the second-phase lines between the Doha West International station and Bahrain together with links to Al-Khor and Ras Laffan. The passenger services will have a maximum speed of 250km/h. The freight trains will travel at a maximum speed of 120km/h.

Phase four is scheduled for completion in 2030. It involves building 128km of railway line, including a Doha Industrial Freight link, and the dualling of the first-phase line connecting to the Saudi border. The maximum speeds on these lines will be 350km/h for passenger services and 120km/h for freight.

Future phases include a link across the Qatari peninsula from the Doha West International station to Dukhan.

The outline design for the first phase is scheduled to be completed in August 2014. A joint venture of US-based Parsons International and France’s Systra, was recently awarded a consultancy services contract for the design of the Long Distance Railway Network.

Over the past two years, Qatar has been busy tendering and awarding construction contracts for the Doha metro scheme.