The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $121 million loan to complete the modernization of the railway network in eastern Uzbekistan that will help to stimulate economic growth in the Fergana Valley and improve trade and regional connectivity.
The loan will supplement the $80 million financing ADB approved in 2017 to help electrify 145.1 kilometers of railway track between the cities of Pap, Namangan, and Andijan in the Fergana Valley. The additional financing will help expand the amount of freight transported and the frequency of passenger trains, eliminate gaps in signaling and telecommunications systems, and improve the capacity of railway staff in modern train management techniques.
“This expanded support will help ensure that trains on the modernized railway network operate safely and more frequently,” said Ko Sakamoto, ADB Principal Transport Specialist for Central and West Asia. “The project will enhance the attractiveness of railways as an environmentally friendly, reliable, and affordable mode of transport for the people of Uzbekistan.”
The modernization of the eastern Uzbekistan railway network is expected to enhance people’s access to health, education, and work opportunities. It will also boost tourism and trade between Uzbekistan and neighboring countries, as it is part of the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Program’s Corridor 2. Railways are proving to be the most reliable and sought-after mode of transport for freight during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Uzbekistan’s railway network is an important engine of the country’s economy, carrying 30%–40% of its freight and 3%–4% of its passenger traffic. In eastern Uzbekistan, the network consists of a loop linking major cities in the Fergana Valley and a line from Pap through the mountainous Kamchik Pass to Angren and Tashkent. Branch lines extend into the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan. However, most of these lines were built in the Soviet era and designed to be used by fewer trains running on steam and diesel.
The project is aligned with Uzbekistan’s national development objectives including developing transport infrastructure as a key growth driver to promote economic development and liberalization and supporting the development of the social sectors.