The deadline to submit offers in the tender for the Tel Aviv light rail project's initial Red Line has been postponed for a fifth - and hopefully final - time, a source close to the deal confirmed Tuesday. "It became clear that if the December 31 deadline would remain in place, the chances of having more than one proposal on the table would be nil," he said. NTA, the government-owned company established to lead the project and run the tender, agreed with all three contending consortia that their proposals would be submitted in the second week of February, though the exact date has yet to be determined. In January 2005, NTA was expecting the offers to be submitted by March 31. According to the new time frame, once the proposals are received in mid-February, NTA and the tender committee will take three or four months to choose a winner in the tender. The winning consortium will then begin the process of financing the project, which will take at least one or one-and-a-half years, the source estimated. Communication difficulties within the three contending consortia, MTS, Metro-Rail and Spidan, are what have led to the delays, the source indicated, noting that each group brings together a babel of languages and mentalities. The MTS group includes Africa-Israel, Egged, Germany-based Siemens, China-based CCECC and Portugal-based Soares Da Costa. Metro-Rail brings together Housing and Construction (Solel Boneh's parent company), Ashtrom, French rail car maker Alstom, French public transportation operator Connex, French infrastructure company Vinci (which is one of the world's largest infrastructure companies), and Germany-based Zublin. Finally, Spidan is a consortium uniting Tahal (Israel Water Planning), the Kardan group, Shafir Engineering, Aviv Construction, US-based Parsons Brinckerhoff, German public transportation operator BVG, and Canadian rail car maker Bombardier. Additionally, since the project is planned as a BOT (build operate transfer), each group must secure agreements to cover the NIS 10 billion needed to finance it. Assuming the mid-February deadline is met, the Red Line should be completed in 2012 or 2013, and the Green Line should be ready at least two years after that. Separately, Israel Railways said Tuesday that the NIS 32b. project to build a double rail line to Karmiel was approved Monday by the National Infrastructure Committee. The new line will run the 24 kilometers (including five kilometers of tunnel) between Acre and Karmiel, with a stop in Ahihud, bringing Karmiel within 32 minutes of the center of Haifa by rail. Construction will most likely begin within three months, and is expected to take four years. The line will be extended to Rosh Pina as part of the following five-year plan, and will eventually reach Kiryat Shmona, Israel Railways said.