Iraq is close to awarding the $multi-billion Baghdad Elevated Metro project to a consortium of France’s Transport giant  Alstom and Hyundai of South Korea, the official Arabic language daily Alsabah reported on Wednesday.

The contract will be signed after the cabinet approves allocations for the project following Parliament’s endorsement of the 2023 state budget and record capital spending.

“The Transport Ministry will sign an agreement with Alstom and Hyundai consortium for the execution of the project and the purchase of trains,” the paper said, quoting Transport Ministry spokesperson Shada Radi.

“The contract will be awarded after the cabinet approves the necessary budget allocation for the project…the Ministry will also embark on work to remove all obstacles blocking the path of the train, mainly water pipes, power pylons and cables, and illegal houses.

In 2013, Alstom signed a 40-million-dollar agreement with Iraq for design studies for  project , which is intended to ease traffic congestion in the capital.

Officials have said the project, which involves building a 22-km rail network and 14 train substations, would cost around $2.5 billion.

(Writing by Nadim Kawach; Editing by Anoop Menon)