ASIA: Israel’s National Infrastructure Committee has given its backing to proposals to extend the Jezreel Valley railway to the border with Jordan, in what is envisaged to be the first stage of a possible ‘Gulf to Gulf’ railway linking the Bay of Haifa with Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Israeli Transport Minister Miri Regev said the existing Valley Line would be extended from Beit-She’an to a station and freight terminal at the Sheikh Hussein border crossing with Jordan. There would be three freight trains per day in each direction, helping to take traffic off the roads.

The proposed 15 km [150 km?] double-track alignment would require various tunnels, road and river bridges and the re-routing of a road. Construction is expected to cost about US$4·56bn.

Gulf to Gulf route

It is envisaged that the line could eventually connect with proposed lines through Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE to provide a land bridge between the Gulf and the Mediterranean, competing with road haulage and maritime traffic around the Arabian Peninsula.

‘The Gulf to Gulf project is a mega-project that will change the face of the regional economy in the Middle East and will connect Israel to many countries in the region by rail and will be a gateway to the Mediterranean for them’, said Regev on March 2. ‘This is an economic line that makes the countries of the Middle East an island of economic power and stability based on reciprocity and peace.’