The first railway line in Jordan was the 1050mm gauge Hejaz Railway, opened in 1908 between Damascus and Medina (see entry for Saudi Arabia). The line was used by passenger and freight trains between the Jordanian capital, Amman, and Damascus (in Syria) until 2006 when services ceased. Following restoration work on the Jordanian section of the line, passenger services were progressively resumed, until it became possible to introduce a weekly service of steam trains between Amman and the pilgrim destination of Daraa in Syria in 2010. These were suspended the following year following the outbreak of conflict in Syria.
The Aqaba Railway, also 1050mm gauge, transports phosphates from mines in southern Jordan to the port city of Aqaba. Part of its route follows the trackbed of the former Hejaz Railway. A proposal exists for a new 22.5km standard gauge railway linking mines at Eshidiya with the Aqaba Railway at Ma’an, from where the line would become dual gauge to Aqaba. In the long term, this is planned to form part of a national network including a rebuilt Hejaz Railway and new international links.
In 2015, a pre-feasibility study was launched for a rail link between central Amman and Queen Alia International Airport. The link would follow the route of the Hejaz Railway for about 35km to Jeeza before branching off to the airport, a further 2km. Envisaged as a light rail link, but the appointed consultant is to advise on options including choice of gauge (standard or 1050mm), the use of tram, tram-train or main line rolling stock, and the potential for suburban rail services.
Flag image from CIA World Factbook