New South Wales Transport has short-listed three bidders from eight responses for the early works of the new CBD and South East Light Rail (CSELR) project.

The three bidders that will be invited to tender include Laing O’Rourke Australia Construction, Leighton Contractors, and a joint venture between Downer EDI Works and Parsons Brinckerhoff Australia.

NSW Transport minister Gladys Berejiklian said: "Eight top tier construction firms registered to tender for the early works contract.

"The NSW Government is delivering this important expansion of our light rail network."

"The NSW Government is delivering this important expansion of our light rail network and the early work is critical to the wider success of the project."

Up front activities required include managing or relocating buried utilities such as water, telecommunications, gas and electricity cables and pipes to be taken up.

Major project will include the early works contract and a public private partnership (PPP) for financing, design, construction, operation and maintenance of the new CSELR Rail.

CSELR is a $1.6bn light rail line from Circular Quay to Kingsford and Randwick through Surry Hills. It will include major interchanges at ferry, rail and bus stations along the route, and pedestrianisation of a 1km section of George Street.

Subject to planning approval, early works construction will begin later this year, with the project expected to be completed by 2020.

In October 2013, over 110 representatives from 66 private sector firms attended a project industry briefing that marked the start of the procurement process of the key infrastructure project.