The Portuguese Ministry of Public Works, Transport & Communications has awarded a 40-year contract to Elos consortium for the first section of the high-speed line between the Portuguese capital of Lisbon and the Spanish frontier.
The build, finance and maintain contract is for the 165km high-speed rail line between Poceirão and the border at Caia.
Construction will require an investment of $2.4bn (€1.65bn) and includes a 90km freight railway.
The consortium, led by Portugal firms Brisa and Soares da Costa, expects the work to begin shortly and finish by 2013.
The project will be financed by private funds, the EU and the Portuguese Government among others.