Ministry of Transport
Tel: (+962) 6 551 8111
Dar al-Handasah (Shair & Partners)
Tel: (+961) 1 790 002
Surrounded by larger economies, Jordan is looking to develop a rail sector that will embellish its credentials as a regional trade hub, acting as a transport node linking the Gulf states, the Levant, North Africa and Iraq.
The government is planning an 897-kilometre standard-gauge national railway network with links to Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Syria. The railway will primarily focus on freight, but will allow for passenger flows too. A feasibility study was completed by Frances BNP Paribas in 2010, but progress has been slow since then, with little happening beyond the start of land acquisition for the network.
The plan is for the railway to link the capital Amman with the industrial cities of Mafraq and Zarqa, the port of Aqaba and the Shidiya phosphate mine, along with connections to the rail systems of Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iraq.
The Jordan rail scheme is planned to be a public-private partnership with a dual structure, comprising an infrastructure company, which will be a state-owned entity Jordan Railway Corporation (JRC). JRC will be mandated to finance, build, own and manage the railway network. The operating company will be a private sector firm or group of companies. The operator will be expected to purchase and maintain its own rolling stock.
There will be three main lines. The North-South Line will connect Aqaba to Amman, as well as Zarqa. The line will stretch for 509km and the total cost of the infrastructure is expected to be $2.4bn. The Zarqa-Iraq link will run for 290km, at an expected cost of $410m. The final section is a connection to Saudi Arabia, where the railway will form part of a rail transport corridor with the GCC states. The Jordanian link is to extend 91km and is expected to cost $120m.
Construction of the railway network was set to begin in 2012 and take four years to complete. But there has been little progress so far, with regional political instability diminishing momentum and appetite for such a large undertaking.
The only looming rail tender is a JD53m ($74.8m) scheme to build a new 28.5km standard-gauge, single-track line between Shidiya and a line south of Maan, convert the existing Maan-Aqaba line to dual-gauge, and construct a short extension to a new phosphate trans-shipment terminal south of Aqaba.
2010: Feasibility study completed
2011: Land acquisition gets under way
2012: Original start date for construction, which has been delayed
2020: Railway expected to carry 29 million tonnes of freight
2040: Freight carried expected to reach 55 million tonnes