Monday, October 4, 2010

Jordan Seeks To Develop Rail Freight Infrastructure

But Will Funds be Available for Ambitious Plans?
Shipping News Feature

JORDAN – The Ministry of Transport are apparently almost ready to seek expressions of interest from companies wishing to tender for the construction of the rail system they have been planning for over a decade. The plan includes shipping freight trains from Port Aqaba through to Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia with the possibility of subsequently starting passenger services, if feasible, at a later stage.

Since 1995 several studies have been conducted to explore the viability of a cost effective rail link with Jordan’s neighbours, problematical given the disparity of rail gauges between the country and others nearby, now it seems that an outline for proposals is almost ready for publication. As with all such major rail projects, it will be necessary to incorporate maintenance and operation of the line as well as construction in the tender.

The latest projection of the requirements of the network was prepared by international consultants Dar al-Handasah but previously Ministry officials have stated that the $5 billion project needed the full financial cooperation of neighbours and there are no indications at this stage that this is the case. The concern for the future of the project must be the recent local press reports which state the country currently has a debt level of above 58% of GDP. With above 60% being effectively illegal funding a major project like the rail freight system might be frowned upon by creditors.

Photo: Port Aqaba