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Several British contractors and consultants are likely to respond to an invitation by Turkey's transport and communications ministry to prequalify for a £2,000 million, privately-financed rail project.The plans call for a high-speed railway and rapid transit network between Ankara and Istanbul. Two competitions are being held.The first covers the design, engineering and supervision of the two links, while the second entails railway construction.The consultancy assignment covers both the high-speed and rapid transit networks, while contractors can apply for all or part of the rail system.Work entails an electrified 430 km double track railway connecting Ankara, Sincan, Cayirhan, Arifiye and Istanbul. A 600 m tunnel or bridge crossing of the Bosphours Strait will also be built taking the railway into Istanbul.A rail tunnel was proposed several years ago by Bouygues, the French contractor, although engineering sources now believe a bridge crossing will be cheaper.Invitations, either individually or in joint venture, should be made to the Ministry of Transport and Communications, General Directorate of Railways, Harbours and Airports Construction, 91 Sokok Emek, Ankara, by September 15.Applications must include financial and technical references, together with credit and financing proposals which should already be approved by a financial institution.Industry sources believe the deadline might be extended because many firms argue that it will be impossible to gather all the relevant information in time.