Two major Canadian engineering and construction firms and one U.S.-based giant are squaring off for a key contract to design, build and finance a railway tunnel that is expected to dramatically speed up train service in the Toronto region.

Infrastructure Ontario and Metrolinx has shortlisted the three groups, issuing a request for proposals for a second rail tunnel under Highway 401/409 to teams led by Omaha-based Kiewit, London, Ontario-based EllisDon Capital Inc./STRABAG Inc. and Aecon/Dragados, a partnership between Calgary-based Aecon and the Canadian subsidiary of Spain-based Dragados.

The new tunnel will pave the way for GO Transit expansion along the Kitchener Corridor under Metrolinx's Regional Express Rail (RER) program. The tunnel and related improvements will make possible “all-day, two-way, 15-minute service on core segments of the network,” said Bruce McCuaig, Metrolnx president and CEO, in a statement.

The project has a projected cost range of $150 million to $370 million.

Peter Kiewit Infrastructure Co. leads one team, paired with Kenaidan Contracting Ltd., Kiewit Canada Development Corp., Obayashi Canada Ltd., Hatch Corp., Jacked Structures Ltd. and TD Securities handling the financing.

On the TK Linx team are  Aecon Infrastructure Management Inc., Dragados Canada Inc., and Technicore Underground Corp. for construction, Arup Canada Inc., Morrison Hershfield, and Peto MacCallum Ltd. for  the design work, with ACS Infrastructure Canada Inc. and Aecon Concessions to oversee financing of the project.

For Toronto Tunnel Partner, EllisDon Civil and STRABAG are pairing on construction, with WSP Canada Inc., Dr. Sauer & Partners and Amec Foster Wheeler managing design. EllisDon Capital Inc. and STRABAG Inc. are the lead on financing.

Infrastructure Ontario and Metrolinx expect to make a decision on which bidding group to go with in the fall.