The bidding process for design and construction work on the $3bn Riyadh light rail project may be delayed as the required budget has not been approved.

Saudi Arabia’s Arriyadh Development Authority was expected to invite contractors to bid for design and build contracts by the end of March this year and a number of consortiums had already expressed an interest in bidding for the contract

The groups include the local Al-Rajhi Group and Japan’s Hitachi Corporation; Saudi Oger; the local Saudico with Malaysia’s Scomi; and Saudi Binladin Group with Germany’s Siemens, according to a source closely involved with the project.

Italy’s Impregilo Arabia has also expressed an interest.

However, the tender documents are now not likely to be issued this year as the project has not been allocated the required budget to move ahead and the prequalification documents are not ready, according to a source involved in the project.

“A decision is expected soon. [There is] no official information yet,” says another source involved in the scheme.

The consultancy team working on the project includes Beirut-based Dar al-Handasah and France’s Egis Rail.

When completed, the light rail network will have two lines. The first line will be a 25-kilometre north-south line with 23 stations and line two will be a 14-kilometre line stretching east to west across Riyadh with 13 stations.