FORMAL signing of a 25-year concession to operate and expand Jordan’s 1050mm gauge Aqaba Railway was expected towards the end of last month, following the approval of the deal by the country’s cabinet on August 8.

A consortium led by Wisconsin Central International and Raytheon Infrastructure was selected last November as preferred bidder for the US$130m package to operate and extend the 283 km line (RG 1.99 p7). However, the award of the concession was delayed by the Jordanian Parliament, which demanded an independent evaluation of the assets to be handed over, which include 21 diesel locos and 267 wagons.

According to Transport Minister Jamal al-Sarayrah, the approval of the railway concession is expected to trigger a US$500m investment by Norway’s Norsk Hydro in a new fertiliser production complex. Hydro Agri would create 1000 jobs and help to revitalise the Jordanian economy.