Jordan prepares to approach contractors for railway work

29 September 2010

Main track will run from Syrian border to Aqaba

Jordan’s Transport Ministry is preparing to invite expressions of interest (EOI) at the end of October for the construction contract of Jordan’s $4.3bn national freight railway.

The ministry had earlier planned to prequalify contractors by the end of the year (MEED 21:5:10)

The ministry and France’s BNP Paribas, which is the financial adviser, are currently deciding whether to tender the project as one design, build, transfer, operate and maintain package or as two separate packages - one for design and build and the other for operation and maintenance.

A decision is expected by early October.

The existing railway network in Jordan is not of an international standard and needs upgrading, so that it can connect with railway networks in Iraq, Syria and Saudi Arabia, says Alaa Batayneh, transport minister at MEED’s Mena Rail Projects 2010 conference.

The new railway will be used to transport cargo from Aqaba port and the Far East across the country and into Syria and on to Europe.

It will comprise of a main 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.

Passenger operations may follow at a later date if the traffic justifies it, added the minister. Beirut-based Dar al-Handasah has 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. The government will finance the $3bn worth of infrastructure through the JRC. A rail regulator, the Land Transport Regulatory Commission will define the regulations of building and operating the railway.

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