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The procurement schedule is tight over the next nine months. Two design and build contracts are on site, and detailed design is being finalised for the 30 contracts yet to be tendered - including all the major ones.

The rolling stock tender is under assessment and some rail systems contracts are out to tender. Prequalification lists have just been finalised for the construction contracts.

'The feedback from our own tenders is that prices are keen,' says general manager project support Alan Donnet. 'Escalation projections are obviously low, but the situation in Asia can turn very quickly.'

KCRC is keeping quiet about how much under the estimates the design and build contracts came in, but figures are understood to be of the order of 30%. Nishimatsu's John Porter believes that his company won DB-350 at about 25% under the estimate.

Corporate level tendering procedures are basically the first conforming bid past the post after prequalification. 'It keeps it simple and avoids the risk of challenges later,' says Donnet. 'It also puts pressure on the employer not to make changes and use them as a bargaining point during the tender.

'The philosophy here is to get the design to the best state of completion at the time of tender. The contractor gets one chance.'

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