THE GOVERNMENT of Bangladesh expected to sign an accord with the Japan Bank for International Co-operation before the end of September, releasing a US$112m soft loan to fund upgrading work on the national rail network.

The funding will support a US$924m reform package to transform Bangladesh Railway into a profitable business. The Asian Development Bank has agreed to provide US$430m, and US$250m is coming from the World Bank. Agreements were signed earlier this year with these two agencies releasing US$130m and US$40m respectively for the first phase of the programme.

BR has identified four specific projects to be funded from the JBIC loan. These are double-tracking of the Laksham – Chinki Astana section of the Dhaka – Chittagong main line, the purchase of 10 locomotives, rehabilitation and expansion of the workshops at Pahartoli and remodelling of Chittagong station.