ON NOVEMBER 23 Wisconsin Central Transportation Corp revealed that its international business unit had been selected as preferred bidder for a 25 year concession to operate the 283 km 1050mm gauge Aqaba Railway in Jordan. WCI is part of a consortium including Raytheon and local Jordanian investors. The decision follows analysis of financial proposals from four shortlisted consortia which were to be submitted by November 12 (RG 9.98 p564).

Following its bid of 20m dinars, the WCI/Raytheon consortium will negotiate final terms with the government of Jordan. WCTC plans to take a 33% stake in the operating company, investing US$9m a year for the first two years. The consortium must also agree a new transport contract with the Aqaba Railway’s principal customer, the Jordan Phosphate Mines Co, which ships phosphate, sulphur and phosphoric acid.

As part of the package, the concessionaire will be responsible for financing, building and operating a 22 km extension to serve a new phosphate mine at El Shidiya, and another of 16 km to the Wadi II industrial complex near Aqaba. Construction of the extensions at a cost of US$120m is expected to boost ARC traffic from around 3 million tonnes a year to 10 million by 2002.

Under the terms of the concession, the government will retain ownership of the ARC infrastructure and fixed assets, but the 21 diesel locos and 267 wagons will be transferred to the concessionaire, who will be responsible for fleet renewals. The government is being advised on the privatisation by CPCS Transcom of Canada.

Key facts

Consortium of Wisconsin Central and Raytheon selected

25-year operating concession

New branches to El Shediya and Wadi II

Traffic to grow from 3 to 10 million tonnes a year by 2002