Jordan’s Transport Ministry is delaying inviting companies to submit expressions of interest in the construction contract of Jordan’s $4.3bn freight railway.

In September, the ministry said it hoped to invite expressions of interest at the end of October. It is not clear when the ministry now plans to invite expressions of interest for the deal (MEED 29:9:10).

The Transport Ministry and France’s BNP Paribas, the financial adviser on the project, were due to have made a decision on how to tender the project by the beginning of October. The two choices were to tender it as one design, build, transfer, operate and maintain package or as two separate packages – one for design and build and the second for operation and maintenance.

The Transport Ministry was not available for comment.                                        

The existing railway network in Jordan is in desperate need of an upgrade. The new plans involve building a main freight track running from the Syrian border in the north to Aqaba port in the south. The plan also involves building an extension to Saudi Arabia and one to Iraq.

Beirut-based Dar al-Handasah carried out the preliminary design of the network.

Firms are tentatively due to submit bids between March to May 2011 and construction is expected to take three or four years to complete. The project will be carried in one phase. Jordan is currently in the process of forming the Jordanian Railway Corporation (JRC) that will own the railway. A private company will operate the railway.