Amman has approved the allocation of JD350m ($494m) from the national budget in 2009-10 for the acquisition of land for the project, which will be used to export Iraqi crude oil and other products via Aqaba.

The idea is to resuscitate an agreement from 2003, when 13 Arab countries signed up to a railway link during meetings of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia.

The Jordanian Minister of Transport Alaa Batayneh, who will head the steering committee, says that as well as oil and gas, the line will also be used for trade in containers, cement and phosphates, and will provide passenger services.