The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has awarded a $170m loan to support the modernisation and upgrade of Uzbekistan’s locomotive fleet.

The loan amount will support the acquisition of 24 electric locomotives. Overall, the project will cost $218.3m, with the Government of Uzbekistan contributing $48.3m.

Out of the 24 units, 16 locomotives will be optimised for freight trains, while the remaining eight vehicles will be used for hauling passenger trains.

A locomotive depot in Tashkent called O’zbekiston will also be upgraded to carry out necessary maintenance of the fleet.

Once introduced, the locomotives are expected to improve freight and passenger railway services, as well as reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 900,000t annually.

The ADB support is aligned with the CAREC Railway Strategy 2017–2030, which emphasises bolstering railway connectivity to support economic growth in Central Asia.

The project is slated to be completed by June 2025.

Uzbekistan’s 4,669km railway network supports around 40% of freight volumes in the country and about 4% of land transport passenger volume.

Nearly 2,350km, or more than 50% of the country’s railway network, is electrified.

ADB Central and West Asia Senior Transport Specialist Ko Sakamoto said: “Having a cleaner, more efficient and reliable transport network, in the form of electrified railways, will help boost Uzbekistan’s growth and maximise the country’s potential as a transport hub at the heart of Central Asia.”

ADB has been associated with multiple railway projects in Uzbekistan. In April 2017, it approved an $80m loan for the electrification of a 145km-long rail line connecting the cities of Pap, Namangan and Andijan.

In September 2011, ADB awarded a $100m loan for the electrification of a 140km-long Marakand-Karshi rail line.