Asian Development Bank has awarded a US$2m grant to support CAREC railway development (Photo: ADB).

ASIA: The Asian Development Bank has awarded a US$2m regional technical assistance grant to support the development of railway strategies and institutional capabilities in the Central Asia Regional Economic Co-operation countries.

CAREC comprises Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan and six multilateral institutions.

ADB said the increasing amount of freight carried by roads in the region was leading to traffic congestion, crashes and infrastructure deterioration.

The grant will support research into the rail market and the development of a regional transport model, help to identify priority projects and train railway agency staff in the preparation of bankable investment projects. It will also strengthen knowledge in areas such as financial restructuring, marketing, asset management, interoperability and safety.

‘Railways have an important role to play in helping CAREC countries move from landlocked to land-linked’, said ADB Senior Transport Specialist Jurgen Sluijter on January 25. ‘Rail should be the mode of choice for trade in the region and yet railways struggle to compete against road transport. This grant will support the study and development of a regional rail system that is quick, efficient, accessible for customers and easy to use throughout the region.’