The Tel Aviv Metropolitan Light Railway Red Line is finally getting on track with three international consortia lining up to bid for one of the country's largest infrastructure projects, valued at about NIS 10 billion. "This is a historic moment, a dream that started 32 years ago," said Minister of Transportation Meir Sheetrit. The structure of the bid is made up of a combination of a maximum of 70 percent in government grants and a minimum of 30% in own funding. "The winning contractor is expected be the one who goes below the 70%," said Moshe Gal, spokesperson of NTA, the government company running the project. The NTA announced a three-month period decision on the tender outcome, which closed on Monday. Once a decision has been made, the funding of the project will be structured within a year. Construction of the Light Railway Red Line is set to commence in mid-2007. Completion of the Red Line and the start of operation is expected by 2013. The Red Line, which covers about 22 kilometers, will run from Bat Yam to Yaffa through to Petah Tikva, connecting Tel Aviv, the Ramat Gan Diamond Exchange and Bnei Brak. The first segment, running from Bat Yam to Jaffa, will open by 2010, ahead of the subsequent segment, which was expected to ease fundraising for the winning consortium. The first bidder is the MTS group including Africa-Israel, Egged, Germany-based Siemens, China-based CCECC and Portugal-based Soares Da Costa. The second bidder is Metro-Rail, which brings together Housing and Construction, Ashtrom, French railcar maker Alstom, French public transportation operator Connex, French infrastructure company Vinci (one of the world's largest infrastructure companies) and Germany's Zublin. Spidan, the third bidder, is a consortium uniting Tahal, the Kardan group, Shafir Engineering, Aviv Construction, US-based Parsons Brinckerhoff, German public transportation operator BVG, and Canadian railcar maker Bombardier. Furthermore, Sheetrit announced that meetings to prepare the tender for the Green Line would be underway from next week. The Green Line will link Rishon Lezion and Holon with central Tel Aviv, connecting to the Red Line before continuing north. Once completed, the tender for the Yellow Line, which will connect Herzliya, Ra'anana and Kfar Saba, was expected to start.