The world's longest combined road and rail tunnel will be under the Fehmarnbelt between Denmark and

The world's longest combined road and rail tunnel will be under the Fehmarnbelt between Denmark and Germany.

The prequalification of contractors has begun for what will be the world’s longest combined road and rail tunnel, under the Fehmarnbelt between Denmark and Germany, with a deadline for applications of 18 January, 2013.

The € 5.5 billion project will be state-funded. The planning phase is being undertaken by Femern, a special vehicle set up by Sund & Bælt Holding, which is 100% owned by the Danish Transport Ministry.

A joint venture consisting of Danish engineering and design consultancy Ramboll, UK-based Arup and Dutch company Tunnel Engineering Consultants (TEC) is responsible for the design of the 18km tunnel.

Femern said it was looking to prequalify four or five applicants to submit bids for the four large-scale contracts which will be put out to tender next year.

Claus F Baunkjær, CEO of Femern, said, “We are now ready to begin the process of finding our future contractors. We expect to prequalify the best contractors in the world.

“The objective of the prequalification process is to ensure that the contractors comply with our requirement of being among the very best at what they do. This is also the international contracting industry's guarantee that the project is moving forward into a new and crucial phase.”

The company said the consortia might comprise German, Danish and other international companies.

The four contracts for the coast-to-coast link will cover dredging the seabed and land reclamation; construction of the northern section of the tunnel; construction of the southern section of the tunnel; and construction of portal structures, ramps and associated land.

“The immersed tunnel under the Fehmarnbelt will be the biggest of its kind in the world,” said Mr Baunkjær, “and the entire construction project will be one of Europe’s largest workplaces for a number of years.”

He said that as it was a complex project, it was therefore vital to have plenty of time for the prequalification and tender processes so that the overall plan of beginning construction in 2015 and opening the link in 2021 could be achieved.

Prequalification is primarily intended for large companies which are used to working in international environments. Small and medium-sized companies in the German and Danish regions around the Fehmarnbelt will be taken into consideration in 2013 when the prequalified contractors begin the process of drawing up their bids based on the tender documentation from Femern.

At the same time as the prequalification and tender processes, Femern will continue its work to complete an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report for the Danish authorities and the application for the German plan approval.

Femern expects these elements to be in place by summer 2013, after which time the respective authorities in both countries will review the project according to existing national legislation. The construction work will be initiated only when the approvals have been given in both countries.

At the end of the tender round, once the contractor’s bids are known, the Danish Parliament is expected to pass a construction act for the project at the start of 2015.

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