A single-track rail tunnel will be built as part of Hong Kong Mass Transit Railway Corporation‘s (MTRC) HK$2.6bn (US$333m) Penny’s Bay rail line to Hong Kong’s Disneyland.

The 2.5km drive is the only design and build contract among 11 civil, building and systems deals the MTRC plans to award for the line. It has just invited firms to prequalify.

The invitation coincides with the appointment of a team led by Ove Arup and Partners, and including LPT as architect and Widnell as quantity surveyor, to carry out detailed design for the 3.2km line.

But the MTRC needs to sign a project agreement with the government before work can start.

Speaking at the MTRC’s inaugural shareholders meeting in mid-May, corporation chairman Jack So Chak-kwong confirmed: “We are in discussions with government on a project agreement for the Penny’s Bay rail link to the future Disney theme park.” But he did not indicate when a deal could be signed. One insider said: “The MTRC plans to invite design and construct tenders for the tunnel in August, ready for work to start by the end of this year.”

The railway is due to completed in 2005 in time for the opening of Hong Kong’s Disneyland.