Meir Sheetrit Transportation Minister presented last week at a conference of transportation ministers for the Mediterranean area at Marrakesh, Morocco, Israel's latest plans for a rail link stretching between Haifa and the city of Irbid, Jordan.
The proposed railway line will include a branch line to the West Bank city of Jenin.
The plan, if approved, would be financed by the European Union, which expressed interest in investing over 300 million euro in joint transportation infrastructure projects among Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.
The line is expected to pass through King Hussein Bridge and Jenin city in the West Bank and will be a new road for the access of the Jordanian goods to the European markets. It is understood that the Haifa-Irbid railway link would offer industry and trade a better and more attractive land link to the Haifa port, than the present road haulage.
The minister emphasized that once the railway line would be in operation less lorries wouldbe required to move the increasing amount of cargo moving between Jordan and the port of Haifa.
Sheetrit argued that Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority share a common goal of growth and noted that "the infrastructure for transport is important for the development of the economy and therefore I am all hope that we will be able by the supportof the Europeans to implement the line which will be the first of its kind between Jordan and Israel and extends between the two cities of Haifa and Irbid."
The proposed railway would be an extension of Israel's valley track and will revive the Ottoman line which ran from Haifa to Beit She'an. The original track continued on to Damascus and Amman and was part of the famous 1,320-kilometre Hejaz railway built between 1900-1908 between the current Syrian capital and Medina in what is now Saudi Arabia.
Sheetrit had also expressed his hope to get the European support for the provision of international finance to enable rail connection between Gaza Strip and the port of Ashdod. Sheetrit told the participants that the project had already been planned thus little time required to begin work on the project.