Jordan’s Transport Ministry is reviewing plans to proceed with the Amman-Zarqa light railway network.

The Jordanian transport minister Alaa Batayneh says that an alternative is under study as the cost of the light railway is estimated to be about $550m.

“The government will have to pay $50m every year as a subsidy to keep the ticket prices under control. This is expensive so we are studying plan B,” Batayneh said on the sidelines of MEED’s Mena Rail Projects 2010.

“Plan B is to build a BRT, a bus rapid transit system, between the same two points of Amman and Zarqa. By the end of the year, we will decide which way to go,” says the minister.

This BRT project will involve building dedicated bus lanes to avoid traffic and the buses themselves will be articulated. This plan will be about one quarter of the cost of the light railway project.

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) is the transaction consultant on the project and remains in talks with the Jordanian government over how the project will be financed. Beirut-based Dar al-Handasah (Shair & Partners) has already completed the preliminary design work for the railway project (MEED 17:6:10).

The light railway involves the construction of a 28-kilometre dual-track railway that will run from Raghadan station in Amman to Zarqa, the country’s second largest city to the northeast of the capital