TENDERS are to be invited next year for construction of a 27 km light rail network in the Macau Special Administrative Region, with the aim of having the first routes operational by 2009.

Proposals for the three-line network were unveiled by the Land, Public Works & Transport Bureau at the end of February as part of a public consultation process. The routes have been developed by Hong Kong's MTR Corp under a feasibility study contract awarded last year (5.04 p258).

The first route to be built would be the 14 km Taipa Line, which would start from the northeast of Macau and run under the city centre and across the Sai Van bridge to Taipa, serving 14 stations. End to end journey time is estimated at 23min. A 3 km branch off this route would serve the airport and the PacOn ferry terminal which is to be built next year. The third route would be a 10 km circular line around the Macau peninsula with 10 stations and a target running time of 18min.

According to Bureau Engineer Chiang Ngoc-Vai, the network is expected to take eight years to complete, at an estimated cost of 11·1bn patacas. He said the government had not decided whether the project should be publicly or privately funded, but that the Bureau was 'tending towards a public-private venture'.