A contract to build a new rail tunnel and associated works on the Minho line in Portugal has been awarded to a joint venture of Soares da Costa and Spie Batignolles.

The value of the contract is just over US$24.2M, excluding VAT, which is 23.7% less than the client, the country’s national rail network company Rede Ferroviaria Nacional REFER’s initial estimated budget of approximately US$31.8M.

REFER received seven competitive bids for the new rail tunnel, which is to be built within 730 days. The tender process started in early 2007 and was announced last month. Project management and construction supervision is to be provided by DHV under a contract of US$1.85M.

The tunnel is part of a 3,555m long branch section to be built at the town of Trofa, and under a separate contract a bridge and other associated works are to be built. The contract required the design and construction of a 1,404m long rail tunnel as well as associated surface works, cut and fill, and also reinforced concrete structures.

Trofa is some 20km along the rail line inland from Porto.