The Western Corridor Railway project will move a step forward as firms are today invited to express interest in bidding for five detailed designed contracts worth $1 billion. Kowloon-Canton Railway Corp (KCRC) senior director James Blake yesterday said there was no need for Beijing to approve the project. 'It is entirely for the SAR Government to make the decision,' he said. The design of 25 per cent of the railway has already been awarded to 21 technical designers. The five detailed design contracts will now complete the design. The contracts will be awarded in the spring of 1998 and will be completed by early 1999. Construction work will start in September next year, the railway line to Yuen Long will be completed by the end of 2002 and the section to Tuen Mun by September 2003. The project agreement, which includes the amount the Government will inject, will be submitted to the Executive Council for approval in February next year. A funding proposal will be submitted to the Legislative Council in July next year for endorsement. Mr Blake said the five detailed study contracts were worth between $750 million and $1 billion. Mr Blake said the cost of the project was still estimated at $56 billion. 'All companies will be given equal opportunities. Our procedure is the same as the Government's,' he said. The project earlier raised public concern when it was revealed KCRC had awarded some contracts without tender. Mr Blake said the journey between Yen Chow Street, in Shamshuipo, and Tuen Mun would take 28 minutes and the fare would be $21.