The Jordanian government will float a tender in early December for the construction of a 28km light railway connecting the capital with the industrial city of Zarqa. So far six international companies have expressed interest in the project, which is designed to alleviate traffic congestion on the Amman-Zarqa highway.

The qualified bidder will be announced by March 2007. The build, operate, transfer (BOT) project will take two years to complete and will cost somewhere in the region of US$120mn-140mn.

When complete, the rail system will transport 100,000 commuters a day between the two neighbouring cities, which have a combined population of more than 3mn.

The volume of traffic between the capital and Zarqa, which contains more than 52% of the country’s industrial plants, has increased over recent years in line with economic growth, which reached 7.2% in 2005.

The aim is to extend the rail system up to the Syrian border and south to Queen Alia International Airport and various parts of the Jordanian capital.