CHINA: Asian Development Bank approved loans of up to US$1bn towards the Chinese government's US$3·24bn Railway Energy Efficiency & Safety Enhancement Investment Programme on December 8.

Announced as part of an economic stimulus package in October 2008, the programme is funding the installation of train fault detection equipment and the use of smart electronics and staff training to reduce power consumption and carbon emissions. It will also fund a review of how energy and environmental considerations are taken into account during the management and operation of railways.

The programme supports the Ministry of Railways' US$25bn seven -year plan to expand services in the southwestern regions, including Guangxi, Guizhou, Sichuan and Yunnan provinces and Chongqing municipality.

'The programme will deliver broad benefits including reduced economic losses and lower energy bills for the government, reduced carbon emissions, safer trips for the public, faster more cost-effective freight services, new employment opportunities in underdeveloped areas, and increased integration of the southwest with its neighbours, including Vietnam and the Greater Mekong subregion', said Manmohan Parkash, Principal Transport Specialist within ADB's East Asia Department.