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Contract choice

The infrastructure procurement is being dealt with in two ways: design and construct, and design, build, finance and operate.

The civils work will be carried out under six large design and construct contracts, split geographically and worth of the order of £310M each. Prequalified tenderers have been chosen, and the first contract, for a shield driven tunnel, is out to tender.

The tunnel is through what is referred to as the 'green heart' of the Netherlands - a precious piece of open country between urban areas. The five teams bidding have been paid for this work, and have also been asked to submit prices for a design with a shorter tunnel.

'A shield driven tunnel is an expensive solution,' says Ochtman. 'The previous Cabinet decided that it was worth the money because it was going through a sensitive area, but we are now looking for an alternative which is still fair to the environment, but is cheaper.'

For the remaining contracts, selection of prequalified tenderers has finished, and a consultation phase has just started with a view to all bids being in by the last quarter of this year. Both foreign and Dutch firms are on the list.

The rails, energy, signalling, noise barriers and so on will come under a separate, privately financed contract. This 'infraprovider' will be responsible for the total infrastructure for 25 years after completion on an availability payment basis.

'In this way we will achieve 'life cycle' thinking,' says Ochtman. It is also logical for the infraprovider to bring in its own finance, he adds. 'We expect the contract for the infraprovider to be between £310M and £450M - including construction, the cost of finance, maintenance and renewal until 2030.'

The first round of team selection finished at the beginning of April, with prequalification documents received from five consortia. The five will be narrowed down to four with the shortlist published early this month.

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