“It is 90 per cent complete,” said Nayef Rawashdeh, director of the railways department at Jordan’s Transport Ministry, on the sidelines of the MEED Middle East Rail Projects 2009 conference on 13 October.

Dar is determining the route and calculating the potential revenues the estimated JD4.5bn ($6.4bn) railway will generate. The network will run the length of the country from the southern Red Sea port of Aqaba to the Syrian border, with two spur lines running to Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

The government has yet to finalise the procurement model for the project. “Maybe we will use build-operate-transfer,” said Rawashdeh. “We could also use design-build-operate-transfer.”

French bank BNP Paribas is leading an international advisory team for the project. Canada’s CPCS Transcom is the technical consultant, while US law firm Chadbourne & Parke and Jordan’s IB Law will provide legal support.

In September, Amman decided to directly fund the JD236m Amman-Zarqa part of the rail network after terminating the contract of the consortium charged with building the line in April this year (MEED 23:9:09).

Jordan already has two railways: the Aqaba Railway, which transports phosphate and other mining products to the port of Aqaba; and the Hijaz Railway, which is not currently in operation.