CANADIAN engineering group SNC-Lavalin signed a letter of intent with three Chinese firms in February, paving the way for construction of another metro line in Beijing. Costed at 12bn yuan, the 15 km north-south Line 5 is due to be completed by 2006, and will serve the Olympic Village proposed as part of Beijing’s bid to host the 2008 games. Lavalin is currently undertaking feasibility studies for the line, including a 12 km southern extension which would bring the total number of stations to 24.

Under the deal, which was signed in conjunction with a visit to China by Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, Lavalin will pay 1·5bn yuan for a 37·5% equity stake in the joint venture, whose main shareholder is the Beijing Capital Group. The local partners will contribute 2·5bn yuan. Ratification of the agreement is expected within three months. Subject to approval by the State Planning Committee, construction would start in 2002. The line is expected to be built under a 30-year DBOM concession, with Lavalin responsible for engineering design, procurement and project management. Line 5 is forecast to carry around 500000 passengers/day.

SNC-Lavalin has also signed an agreement to build a 22 km metro line in the northeastern city of Shenyang; this deal is valued at around 11bn yuan.

H At a tunnel breakthrough ceremony on March 12, Guangzhou Metro President Lu Guanglin said that the city’s 23 km Line 2 from Jiangxia to Bazhou was on course to open by the end of 2003, six months ahead of schedule. He also revealed that plans for two more lines have been submitted for authorisation by the State Planning Committee. Line 3 would run 32 km from Guangzhou Dong station to Panyu, and Line 4 for 17·7 km from Bazhou to a new suburban science park. n