Union Railway is prearing to issue tender documents by the end of the first week of March for the civil engineering contract for the first phase of the $11bn federal railway.

Although companies say they have not yet been told if they have been prequalified, they are expecting to be issued the tender in the next few days.

More than 20 groups submitted prequalification documents for the civil and track works on 22 November. The two contracts are an estimated AED300m ($81m) enabling works and earth-moving package and an estimated AED2bn civil and track works package.

The successful bidder will complete site preparation and site clearance work, earthworks, including cut and fill operations at the Liwa sand dunes; the construction of utilities, access roads and highway diversions and buildings including warehouses and facilities for railway operations and maintenance; and trackwork, which involves the supply and installation of ballast, sleepers, rails, switches and crossings.

In a separate deal, consultants will submit renewed bids for the project management consultancy (PMC) contract by the end of next week [11 March]. Union Railway cancelled the previous PMC contract with Parson-Systra in January and retendered the deal in February.

Parsons-Systra, a joint venture of US-based Parsons International and France’s Systra, was due to be project manager on the first phase of the railway (MEED 30:11:10).

The UK’s Atkins will carry out preliminary engineering for the entire UAE railway.

The first phase runs from the port of Ruwais to the gas fields in Habshan and Shah in Abu Dhabi’s Western Region. This is known as stage zero. The joint venture would also have been project manager for the next stages of development, which are stage one, the rail network in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and stage two, which will see the rail network extend to the Northern Emirates.