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03Feb94 UK: WEST COAST LINE WOOS HEAVYWEIGHTS.

A heavyweight international field of consortia has been shortlisted by Railtrack to take on the first stage of the £600 million upgrade of British Rail's West Coast Main Line.Railtrack, which will be responsible for Britain's railway infrastructure from April, has shortlisted six consortia.Contractors, consultants and suppliers from Britain, America, Italy, Switzerland and Sweden feature in the line-up. The consortia include ABB/Amec/Sir William Halcrow, Ansaldo/Laing/Kennedy and Donkin, Brown and Root/Sir Alexander Gibb and Eurorail, which brings together Balfour Beatty, Trafalgar House and GEC.The consortia are initially bidding for a detailed study, costing about £2 million, but they have their eyes on the main prize of the massive modernisation, resignalling and maintenance contract.That competition - to design, build, fund and maintain the line - will take place late this year.The West Coast Main Line upgrade heads the list of priorities for Railtrack's chairman Bob Horton.But one major consultant, who declined to bid for the preliminary study, said: 'The prequalification documents were so vague we weren't quite sure what Railtrack was after.'We thought it might end up like the Channel Tunnel Rail Link appointment.'He was referring to the competition last year to appoint a project manager, which was abandoned in the summer after the shortlist had been drawn up. CONSTRUCTION NEWS