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Qatar £6bn rail bonanza holds promise for UK consultants

Multinational consortiums featuring a host of UK consultants were this week waiting to discover whether they will be invited to tender for $10bn (£6.3bn) worth of work on Qatar’s mega-metro and light rail project.

Arup and Hyder are confirmed contenders among the UK firms in consortiums hoping to win the work. Six design and build packages are up for grabs, each worth up to £1.3bn.

Many other UK consultants are understood to be vying for the lucrative work.

Client Qatar Railways Company (Qatar Rail), a joint venture between German rail operator Deutsche Bahn and developer Qatari Diar, plans to invite tenders next month.

The mega-project will see four metro lines, two light rail lines and a high speed commuter line built around the capital Doha.

It will feature links to major locations including Doha airport, the giant Lusail new city development, Education City and football World Cup venues. Qatar is hosting the Fifa World Cup in 2022.

Fast tracked

The already fast-tracked project is being accelerated to support Doha’s bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games.

A formal intention to bid was lodged with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) last month. The IOC will make its decision next September.

Initial work covers the construction of 52km of metro and light rail lines connecting the airport to the Olympic venues.

The line would be largely underground and will be built and operating by 2019 at the latest, according to its Olympic bid.

The remaining sections will connect to the football stadiums and must be completed in time for the World Cup in 2022.

Qatar Rail deputy chief executive Geoff Mee confirmed that the raft of packages to go out to tender next month include four £1.3bn packages for tunnelling and station box build for the Metro plus two further £630M packages for other major station box excavations in Doha.

Competition for the work is fierce. An unprecedented 280 bidders submitted expressions of interest last September, according to NCE sister title Meed.

Many formed consortiums and NCE understands that a prequalification exercise cut the number of bidders to around 50. Qatar Rail will next month invite between 10 and 20 consortiums to tender for the packages.

“This is an amazing project that overall includes a high speed railway, a freight railway, a high speed commuting railway, four Metro lines in Greater Doha and two light rail systems,” said Mee.

The long distance lines will provide links to neighbouring Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

These include a 180km long high speed line to Bahrain, a 100km long passenger transport line to Saudi Arabia and a 325km long freight network.

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