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Mon 28 May 2007 01:22 PM

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Jordan's $250m railway on track for Q4

The project is scheduled to begin end of this year and expected to cost between $226 to $254 million.

Construction of Jordan's light railway between Amman and Zarqa is expected to start in the fourth quarter, an official at the country's transport regulator said yesterday.

The Amman-Zarqa Light Rail System was announced at the World Economic Forum in Jordan earlier this month, part of $2.5 billion worth of agreements the country's government has signed with local and international companies at the forum.

Hasham Masaid, Public Transportation Regulatory Commission (PTRC) director general, said the government was in the final states of negotiations with the consortium that is going to build the railway, and he expected to sign the contract in late July.

"Negotiations are underway with the international consortium to finalise the details of the project," Masaid told the Jordan Times of Sunday.

The consortium is made up of Pakistan's Sadullah Khan & Brothers, Hycarbex American Energy, CETC International of China, the Infrastructure Development Company, and United Jordanian Contractors.

Masaid said the consortium would establish a new company to oversee the $226-254 million project.

The 26-kilometre railway is scheduled to be operational in 2009 and officials have described it as the backbone of transport between the two cities.

As many as 100,000 people are expected to use the railway, with trains making around 78 trips a day at speeds of up to 90 kilometres per hour. The PTRC projected revenues for 2008 of $13 million.

Zarqa - the second largest city in Jordan after Amman - is the country's industrial centre and home to over 50% of Jordan's factories. Approximately 15.5% of Jordan's population lives there.

According to official estimates around half the country's population live in Amman and Zarqa.

Currently the only way to commute between the two cities is by car or by bus.

PTRC has also said there is a possibility that the railway will be extended to include the planned Zarqa New Garden City, and extended from Raghadan terminal into other areas of Amman.

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