Union Railway, the master developer of the cross-country rail network in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), this week brought in UK consultant Atkins after cancelling two consultancy contracts on the $11bn (£7bn) project.
The railway will connect the UAE to Saudi Arabia via Ghweifat in the west and Oman via Al Ain in the east.
Atkins has won the preliminary engineering contract for stages one and two of the project after the original contract awarded to Parsons Brinckerhoff was cancelled.
Atkins is already working on the project’s “stage zero”.
A project management consultancy contract awarded to Parsons-Systra in November 2010 has also been cancelled.
The Parsons-Systra joint venture of US-based Parsons International and France’s Systra was due to project manage stages zero, 1 and 2.
Union Railway said construction of the 270km long phase 0 would begin in mid-2011. It will tender civil works contracts in March.
Contractors submitted prequalification documents for the enabling works and earth moving package and the civil and track works package in November last year.
Union Railway chief executive Richard Bowker said there was strong interest from big international firms.
“A large number of leading international companies has expressed interest in competing in the prequalification,” he said.