THE GOVERNMENT of Jordan has invited prequalification bids by January 25 for a concessionaire to run the 292 km Aqaba Railway. This follows the appointment of CPCS Transcom of Canada to assist with the process. Secretary-General for Transport Issa Ayyoub said in December that a 20 to 25 year concession would be awarded in June, together with powers to build a 22·5 km link to phosphate mines at Al-Shidiya and a spur from Aqaba to the industrial zone at Wadi II.

As well as operating 1050mm gauge phosphate trains, the concessionaire will be responsible for maintaining the infrastructure, which will remain state-owned. The ministry estimates that a concessionaire will achieve a rate-of-return of around 30% if it can double the present traffic level of 2·8 million tonnes a year.

Construction of the two branches under a separate build-transfer-operate agreement is costed at around JD35m, with JD21m for rolling stock and JD9m for work on the existing infrastructure. o