ADB aids Uzbekistan rail upgrade

By Chris Sleight29 September 2011

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has extended a US$ 100 million loan to Uzbekistan for the upgrade of a 140 km stretch of rail line between Marakand, Samarkand province and Karshi, Kashkadarya province. The line is part of the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooparation Corridor 6, which runs north to south, linking Europe, through Central Asia to the Middle East.

The money, including a further US$ 76 million from the government of Uzbekistan, will be used to finance electrification of the 140 km stretch, adding to the already electrified northern portion. According to the ADB this will increase the line's freight capacity because electric trains are faster and can haul more freight than diesel units. At present the route carries some 10 million tonnes of freight per year.

ADB transport specialist for central and west Asia, Zheng Wu said, "This upgrade will improve regional connectivity along a vital transit route, cut transport costs, lessen greenhouse gas emissions and boost trade."

The bank also said that the line runs through remote, underdeveloped districts of Uzbekistan and its electrification will help the people in these provinces export commodities such as cotton, agricultural products, marble, oil and gas.

The construction work itself will include installing overhead power lines, substations, signals and telecommunications equipment and is the third investment the ADB has made in railway modernisation in Uzbekistan. Completion is expected in March 2016.

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