The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has agreed to provide a $121m loan for railway modernisation works in eastern Uzbekistan.

The financing will be used to boost railway freight transportation capabilities and increase passenger train frequency in the Fergana Valley region to enhance regional connectivity.

The ADB loan will also help in upgrading telecommunications systems by eliminating signalling gaps, as well as in training railway staff with modern management techniques.

Most of the railway lines in eastern Uzbekistan were built during the Soviet era to support steam and diesel-powered train movement.

Notably, ADB allocated an $80m loan in 2017 for the electrification of the 145.1km of railway connecting the cities of Pap, Namangan, and Andijan in the Fergana Valley.

ADB Central and West Asia principal transport specialist Ko Sakamoto said: “This expanded support will help ensure that trains on the modernised railway network operate safely and more frequently.

“The project will enhance the attractiveness of railways as an environmentally friendly, reliable, and affordable mode of transport for the people of Uzbekistan.”

Overall, Uzbekistan’s railway network transports around 30% – 40% of freight in the country. It also carries around 3% – 4% of passenger traffic.

The modernisation of the sector is expected to boost trade with neighbouring countries and improve access to education, health and work opportunities.

Earlier this year, ADB allocated a $1bn loan for the development of Delhi–Meerut Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS) in India.

The loan will be used to fund various civil works such as the construction of railway tracks, station buildings, power supply and maintenance facilities among others.