Jordan to build 995-mile railway

Train will connect Amman with Syria in the north and port city of Aqaba at the Red Sea.

abdullah of jordan 298ap (photo credit: AP [file])
abdullah of jordan 298ap
(photo credit: AP [file])
The Jordanian government plans to start building a 995-mile long railway line that will connect the capital Amman with Syria in the north and the port city Aqaba at the Red Sea. The railway will also connect to Iraq and Saudi Arabia in the future, International Rail Journal reported. The estimated cost of the network is $6.4 billion, of which the government already has allocated $140 million for land purchase, and has issued tenders to local, regional and international companies. If construction goes according to plan, the project will be completed in 2013. The government hopes that construction of the railway will create increased trade between Jordan and its neighbors and also create employment opportunities for its citizens. Officially the unemployment rate in Jordan is 14.3 percent, but other estimates talk of 25%; some 70% of the jobless are under the age of 30. The announcement of the plans for the railway comes a week after the government approved a plan to attract more investment and boost economic growth, which has slowed to around 5.5%, while foreign debt is running at $6.6 billion. In addition to lack of natural recourses such as oil and natural gas which is found in abundance among Jordan's neighbors along the Gulf, Jordan, which is largely made up of arid desert, is also held back in its developments by lack of fresh water. Its main natural resource is phosphate rock of which Jordan ranks as the second-largest exporter in the world and the sixth-largest producer of refined products.