(MENAFN - AzerNews) By Abdul Kerimkhanov
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $170 million loan to improve Uzbekistan's locomotive fleet through procurement of 24 ultra-modern electric locomotives.
The new locomotives will improve the railway system efficiency by offering cleaner, more reliable and efficient passenger and freight services.
Cindy Malvicini, Country Director for Uzbekistan, said that transport and communications are critical for the growth and development of landlocked Uzbekistan, and remain a priority for ADB's support for the country.
In turn, Ko Sаkаmоtо, Senior Transport Specialist at ADB, mentioned that the presence of cleaner, more efficient and reliable transport network in the form of electrified railways will help to accelerate the country's growth and to maximize its potential as a transport hub in the heart of Central Asia.
The project will provide 24 electric locomotives, 16 of which are optimized for freight trains and eight for passenger trains. These locomotives will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 900,000 tons per year, as well as reduce local air pollution.
Uzbekistan locomotive depot in Tashkent will also be modernized to effectively serve the needs of the new rolling stock. Uzbekistan Railways is implementing a long-term development strategy to prepare for the country's transport needs.
The project will help reduce travel time on Uzbekistan's railway network, improve the quality and reliability of services in the Central Asia regional economic cooperation (CAREC) transport network, and strengthen the conditions for private sector development in the country.
This project is in line with the CAREC railway development strategy objectives for 2017-2030, which highlights the Railways' role as an engine of economic growth in Central Asia.
The total project cost is $218.3 million, while Uzbek government $48.3 million. The project is expected to be completed by June 2025.
ADB loan of $170 million directly complements other projects in Uzbekistan on the electrification of the country's railway network, two of which are supported by ADB.
Railway transport plays an important role in the economy of Uzbekistan, especially in the transport of large volumes of goods over long distances. It is also convenient to carry passengers between densely populated cities of the country.
The 4,669 km long railway network in Uzbekistan carries about 40 percent of the total freight traffic and about four percent of the total passenger traffic of the country's land transportation. With regard to the electrification level, more than 50 percent or 2,350 km of the country's railway network is currently electrified.
Since joining ADB in 1995, Uzbekistan has received 70 loans totaling $7.4 billion, including two private sector loans totaling $225 million.
ADB also provided $6 million in equity investments, $218 million in guarantees, and $87.3 million in technical assistance grants.
The Bank signed five loans totaling $1.1 billion in 2018 to improve energy efficiency and primary health care services, access to finance for farmers and fruit and vegetable producers, and access to drinking water in western Uzbekistan.