The government cancelled the contract to run 78 passenger journeys a day between the two cities for “legal reasons”, according to Transport Minister Alaa Batayneh.

The consortium had failed to comply with both the implementation agreement and the request for proposals, Batayneh said.

Jordan’s government awarded the contract to China’s Infrastructure Development and a contractor from Pakistan in May last year. The consortium beat a rival bid by Spanish and Kuwaiti companies.

The government had expected work to begin on the ailway line in 2009 with the first passenger services taking place in 2010. The Transport Ministry of was due to pay one-third of the project’s costs.

Jordan’s transport regulator, the Public Transport Regulatory Commission, finished buying the land needed for the railway at a cost of JD3.3m ($4.7m) in the middle of March.