The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $1bn loan to China to purchase rail equipment for cleaner, safer and more energy-efficient railway services in the southwest regions of the country.

The funds will be used to buy a moving train fault detection system and smart electronic devices to help reduce power consumption and carbon emissions.

The bank will also provide technical assistance to review and overhaul existing arrangements for integrating energy efficiency and environmental considerations into railway management and operations.

The loan will finance 30% of the country’s Railway Energy Efficiency and Safety Enhancement Investment Programme, part of the government’s $25bn seven-year plan to expand and improve railway services.

Work is particularly focused on underdeveloped southwestern regions including Guangxi, Guizhou, Sichuan and Yunnan provinces as well as the Chongqing municipality.

The programme is expected to cut costs, improve safety and reduce journey times in the region as well as increase integration of the southwest with its neighbours such as Vietnam and the Greater Mekong Subregion, the bank said.