German rail operator Deutsche Bahn says it is close to completing a contract worth 17 billion euros with Qatar to help build a passenger and freight rail network in the wealthy Gulf emirate.
Soon a familiar scene in Qatar?
German Transport Minister Peter Ramsauer said he and Deutsche Bahn chief executive Ruediger Grube will sign the deal in Qatar on Sunday.
The online version of the business newspaper Handelsblatt says the contract package is worth 17 billion euros, comprising planning, building of rail infrastructure and providing rail vehicles, with German firms likely to win stakes in the project.
The Qatar project, it added, would include a high-speed freight and passenger link to neighboring Bahrain. It also speculated that Deutsche Bahn's logistics subsidiary, DB Schenker, could later expand rail links into Saudi Arabia.
State-held Deutsche Bahn did not immediately comment.
The potential deal follows years of negotiations begun under former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.
Handelsblatt, quoting government sources in Berlin, said a joint venture called the Qatar Railways Development Company would be created, with Qatar holding 51 percent and Deutsche Bahn 49 percent.
Overview of Gulf region
The project would include a commuter rail system for the one million residents of Qatar's main city of Doha and a high-speed link with its international airport.
Planning would cost 700 million euros, with Deutsche Bahn aiming for a share of that and later a share of Qatar's rail operations.
Handelsblatt also says the building of Qatar's rail infrastructure will cost 14 billion euros, with German building firms in the bidding. Rolling stock worth another two billion euros could be provided by firms such as the electrical engineering giant Siemens.
Train contract in Sweden
Deutsche Bahn announced on Friday that its commuter train subsidiary DB Regio has won the tender to provide regional links in southern Sweden.
That contract for links in and around the cities of Norrkoeping, Linkoeping and their 415,000 residents is due to begin late next year and run for ten years.
Editor: Kyle James