Presentation of the transport sector


In Jordan, the road transport is the dominant sub-system. The railway is mainly used to transport phosphate and for touristic purposes. However, Jordan launched an important investment program to create a new rail

network by 2013.

The Jordan transport sector represents

_ 965 Mio. € turnover (2007)

_ The proportion of GDP (gross domestic product) is 8%

_ About 9% of the work force are employed in this sector (incl. communication)22

_ Average growth rate is about 1%

_ The services are provided by the private and public sector

The Jordanian infrastructure is composed of:

_ Road network – 7,816 km

_ Rail network - 510 km

_ 01 main port in Aqaba /Red Sea

_ 03 international airports in Amman and Aqaba


Rail transport


The railways are not a significant component of the transport sector.


Rail passenger transport


Total rail passenger transport is about 0.04 million pkm (2008) – these are mainly touristic trains.

There is no international passenger transport on rail.


Rail Freight Transport


Total rail freight transport is 436.6 million tkm (2008). These volumes are mainly national phosphate transports from the mines at Hassa, Abiad and Shedyeh to Aqaba port for export. This transport is undertaken by the Aqaba Railway Corporation and represents about 2.5-3 Mio. tons yearly. In the past years these transports were decreasing.


Railway Network


The Jordan railway network has a total length of 510 km.

_ It is a pure diesel network, there are no electrified lines

_ The whole network is narrow gauge (1,050 mm)

_ About 50% of network is equipped with colour light signals

_ The Jordan railways comprises two lines:

- The Jordan Hedjaz Railway (blue line in the figure above) was built between 1901 and 1908. It has S-20 rails and a maximum axle load of 10t. The railway is in a bad condition.

- The Aqaba Railway Corporation (red in the figure above). It was built in 1975 and upgraded to carry 16 ton axle load. The main purpose is the transport of phosphate from mines at Hassa , Abiad and Shedyeh to Aqaba port for export.

_ There are no high speed lines within the network and the maximum speed is 60km/h. The Aqaba Railway Corporation line has a speed limit of 30 km/h.

_ The Rolling stock is composed of

- 22 locomotives

- 252 goods transport wagons – only phosphate transport

- 16 passenger transport vehicles

 Plus 100 km abandoned lines.


The railway links with adjacent countries are:


_ Syria: the link has not been operated since 2003. Transport is only possible to Damascus, as the rest of Syria's railway network utilizes standard gauge which is not compatible with Jordan's narrow gauge system);

_ Saudi Arabia: no current link, but construction of a connection has started for a East-West railway from the Jordanian border to Riyadh and Ras Az Zawr to be operative by mid 2012;

_ Israel: defunct, however, plans to construct a standard gauge line from Irbid/Jordan to Bet Shean have been discussed. However, the project is postponed;

_ Egypt: no links, but plans exist for a train ferry crossing the Gulf of Aqaba. But there is no concrete time schedule;

_ Palestinian Territories: no links;

_ Iraq: no railway link, but Iraq is conducting technical and economical studies for the railway connection with Jordan. Jordan completed the study and preliminary design is currently prepared.


 Investments in interoperability and definition of freight corridors (Action 12)


Jordan has recently accepted the “Study on the Railway Development Strategy”, prepared during the last two years.

This study recommends the development of a national standard gauge rail network linking major centres in Jordan (Aqaba, Amman, Zarqa, Mafraq, Irbid) with its neighbours Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Israel.

The preliminary design of the proposed network has been developed using international UIC codes and technical rail standards agreed between ESCWA partner countries to ensure rail interoperability.

Apart from few locations, the entire system would initially operate as single track system, running either single or double UIC length trains (750 to 1,500 meters in length) powered by diesel locomotives. The estimated overall length of the rail system as shown in the map below would amount to some 1,080 km, with an initial infrastructure development cost of 2.7 billion EUR, excluding rolling stock, terminals and fixed maintenance facilities.

This network should be realized in 2013, about the same year as the neighbouring countries Saudi Arabia and Syria will complete their rail links to the Jordanian border.

A transaction advisor has been appointed to advice on the implementation of the project on PPP basis.

The update of the existing lines to standard gauge (1,435 mm) is also planned by 2013.

The planned railway network would consist of the following sections (see map below):

_ East – West from Jordan Valley-Irbid-Mafraq: 100 km (Cost 450 Mio. EUR), operation planned for 2013

_ East West link Zarqua to Iraqi Border: 314 km (Cost 310 Mio. EUR), operation planned for 2013

_ East - West link to Saudi Arabia: 91 km (Cost 100 Mio. EUR), construction has started and operation planned by mid 2012

_ North - South from Syrian Border- Mafraq-Zarqa-Amman- Shidiya-Aqaba – Eilat 464 km (Cost 1,700 Mio. EUR), operation planned for 2013  

This “core railway” might be supplemented by other rail lines, the operation of which would be independent from the core railway.

The railway parameters would be:

_ Standard Gauge (1,435 mm);

_ Single Track, phased with crossing stations;

_ Double UIC Length Trains;

_ Max. Axle Loads 25 Tonnes;

_ Diesel Tractions;

_ Design Speeds of 120 km/h Freight/160 km/h Passenger;

_ Gradients Ideally 1% Max 1.5%.

The project is in the preparation phase:

_ Land has been acquired

_ An engineering consulting firm was appointed to prepare the preliminary design, geotechnical investigation and environmental impact assessment.

_ A transaction advisor for the implementation of the project on PPP basis has been hired.


Regional Context:


_ Syria: Already has standard gauge links from Damascus to Turkish border and Latakia. Construction underway on links to Iraqi border and Jordanian border (to be completed by 2012)

_ Saudi Arabia: Government is overseeing construction of North-South Railway, linking Riyadh to Jordanian border (2012); in April 2008 SRO designated preferred bidder for PPP development of East-West Railway


_ Iraq: called for design bids for link to Jordanian border; an additional study has to be prepared

_ Israel: presently studying a link from Haifa to Sheikh Hussein Crossing Point.

The further expansion of the network between 2014 and 2020 is possible. This depends on freight volume and operating conditions. Topics to be studied and implemented could be required extensions, railway links,

doubling of the track or the necessity for additional rolling stock.

Freight corridor Jordan proposes the railway link from Syria to Saudi Arabia and the link to the Iraq border as regional corridors. The Government of Jordan is seeking financing that would allow the project to proceed as quickly

as possible.

These two sections would be of modest initial benefit to Jordan but of great immediate benefit to land-based exports from Europe to both Iraq and the Gulf countries, particularly Saudi Arabia. It would serve as the initial component of a network ultimately linking Jordan with Syria, Saudi Arabia and Iraq and act as a catalyst for development of the full Jordanian rail network, promoting regional ties and more efficient transport integration across the region as a whole.


National Rail Company and Main Responsible Authorities in Rail



The national responsible authorities are the two railway companies Aqaba Railway Corporation and Jordan Hedjaz Railway and the Railways Department within the Ministry of Transport.

Aqaba Railway Corporation (ARC) built in 1975 and upgraded to carry 16t axle load. The main purpose is the transport of phosphate from the mines at Hassa and Abiad to Aqaba port for export. ARC carries

between 2,5 and 3 million tons per year.

Jordan Hedjaz Railway (JHR) was built from 1901-1908. It uses S-20 Rails and has a maximum axle load of 10t. Currently it employs about 160 people.

The Railways department within the Ministry of Transport has the following tasks:

_ Responsible for regulating the railway sector;

_ Developping the railway links;

_ In future with the new railway network implemented as PPP, it will act as regulator for licensing and monitoring the implementation of PPP agreement.


The structural reform (Action 13)


The railway operation in Jordan is very small. Currently the national regulations are based on the Railways Law of 1932.


Separation of operation and infrastructure


The Ministry of Transport is currently drafting a new Railway Law. This law will govern the establishment of an independent regulatory body within the Ministry of Transport; it will also regulate the construction and ownership of new railway lines, licensing of rail business companies, safety and environment, accident investigations etc. The transaction advisor for the PPP is currently reviewing the draft law, afterwards the draft law will go through the official and legal processes which are expected to take around one year.

There is no separation between the infrastructure and the operation. The railway companies are the owners and the operators.

Once the new railway network is implemented, there will be a separation between the regulator who will be represented by the Government, the owner of the infrastructure and the operator.


National Safety Authority and Accidents Investigation


There is no such authority in Jordan. A railway regulatory body will be established by 2013, for monitoring the performance of the railway operator. This regulatory body will take care of all safety issues and accident

investigations. It is planned to establish an Accident Investigation Unit within the Ministry of Transport. This unit will investigate accidents for all modes of transport: sea, air, road and railways.

Most of railway accidents are minor derailments and are investigated by the railway companies themselves.




Jordan is an important transit country in the Mediterranean Region. Rail is only used for touristic and inland freight transports to / from Aqaba port. However, the significance of rail transport in a modern transport mix

has been recognized and an ambitious investment program has been launched to modernize the existing network and to link the network to neighbouring countries (e.g. Syria, Saudi Arabia; Iraq). The plan is to more

than double the network from 510 km to 1,080 km in 2013.

Jordan’s proposition for a regional rail (freight) corridor is the link between Syria and Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

This section would be of modest initial benefit to Jordan but of great immediate benefit to land-based exports from Europe to the Gulf countries, particularly Saudi Arabia.

Jordan is starting talks with Syria (first meeting in August 2009) and Saudi Arabia (meeting planned for September 2009) to achieve bilateral railway agreements. Jordan would appreciate the EU in a moderating role for speeding up the process and to assist in seeking of adequate financing. Also technical advice would be appreciated. Topics would be agreements on priority corridors and on time tables.

Within the EuroMed context an additional link to Egypt could be of regional interest and should be studied.

The structural reforms according to European guidelines have started in 2008.


source: Status Report on the Implementetion of RTAP