The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has shortlisted 15 firms to bid for two design+construct contracts for a $1.6bn project to build a 11km underground mass transit railway in the Indian capital.

The firms include Hyundai Engineering and Construction and Samsung from South Korea; Kumagai Gumi of Japan; Impreglio of Italy; and Dykerhoff & Widmann of Germany.

The companies are chasing two contracts, although DMRC has not released details of which firms have been selected for which section. DMRC project director CBK Rao said: "Foreign companies have been invited since expertise in metro work is not available in India.

"However, there is a condition – these companies must have an Indian partner. We have attached this condition because technology transfer is a must. According to the bid conditions, any foreign company hired by us will have to transfer technology to its Indian counterpart."

Separate technical and financial bids will be submitted for both sections. Stage 1 runs from Delhi University to the inter-state bus terminal (ISBT). Stage 2 continues the line from the ISBT to the Central Secretariat.

The 11 km route from Delhi University to the Central Secretariat will have ten stations, including facilities at the Old Secretariat; Civil Lines; ISBT; Chawri Bazaar; Connaught Place; and Patel Chowk.

Rao said: "The minimum possible inconvenience will be caused to road traffic and people residing in the vicinity of the metro corridor during construction."

When the system is operating, trains will be controlled by an automatic signalling system that will allow them to operate at three minute headways during peak hours. The metro will have an ultimate carrying capacity of 60 000 people/h.