A total of 80-90 consortiums have been identified as qualified to bid for Qatar Railways Company (QRail) Doha Metro phase 1 projects, but the company is still open to further expressions of interest in the 15 design and build (D&B) contracts to be put out to tender from the second quarter of 2012, the MEED Middle East Tunnelling 2011 Conference was told this morning.

“We are looking to get the best number of bidders,” said Markus Demmler, QRail programme director for the Metro Red Line. “That will be about five bidders for each project.”

Consortiums were invited earlier this year to submit expressions of interest in QRail’s metro civil contracts by the end of the summer. Each will be worth from about $700m to a maximum of $1.5bn, Demmler said. Bids for the first D&B contract are scheduled to be called in the second quarter of 2012.

Demmler said QRail plans to have conferences with qualified companies “in the next couple of months”. This will help to prepare them to bid effectively for the rolling programme of D&B contracts.

Demmler said the schedule was the main challenge.

“We have a very tight time frame,” he said. “We have to finish everything in phase 1 by 2020.” Phase 1 encompasses the Red Line, which will run from the south of Doha through the city to Lusail and beyond. Phase 1 will also deal with the Green Line, as well as grade and elevated parts of the metro.

Demmler said the first phase will comprise 62 kilometres of underground structures and 30km of structures that will be elevated or at grade. Demmler said underground work requiring tunnel boring machines (TBMs) will involve building 49km of twin tunnels. 

The second phase will include the northwest of the Green Line and the Blue Line. It will involve building about 110km of underground structures. Demmler said phase 2 will have about 37km of twin tunnels. “The second phase will start in about five years,” he said.

“We shall have a maximum of 20 TBMs in parallel and the peak period for tunnellling will be in 2015-17,” Demmler said. “What we reqire as a client is that all machines will have active face pressure support. The tunnel lining will be segmental concrete lining.”

“There is a double challenge,” Demmler said. “One is to do the tunnelling and the second to get the material from the tunnelling out of the city.”

Demmler said that QRail has identified the sites for logistic and production areas that will support construction sites. He said there will also be type B locations, where the TBMs are to be launched. “These will need to have more space,” Demmler said.

Demmler said the request for proposals (RFPs) for utility diversions will be issued in the first quarter of 2012. RFPs for the first D&B package will in quarter two. He said the project management contract will be put out to tender in the first quarter.