$1.5b ADB loan to develop Bangladesh railway network

Bangladesh Railway
An inter-city train waiting at Kamalapur Station in Dhaka. Photo: Business Mail

Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide $1.5 billion in loan to develop dual-gauge railway network in the southern parts of Bangladesh.

The new railway, part of the Trans-Asia Railway network, is expected to improve access to Myanmar and beyond.

The investment is the largest ADB has ever made in Bangladesh and the biggest it made in railways, ADB said in a statement today.

The Trans-Asia Railway – an initiative led by United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCO) – aims to provide seamless rail links between Asia and Europe to better connect people and markets.

“The planned 102-kilometer stretch of railway will connect the tourist town of Cox’s Bazar with the existing Bangladash railway network,” said Markus Roesner, Principal Transport Specialist with ADB’s South Asia Department.

Building the rail section and nine stations between Dohazari and Cox’s Bazar will cost a total of over $2 billion, including Bangladesh’s own finance of $512 million on top of the four-tranche ADB financing.

ADB would provide additional $1 million in technical assistance to help Bangladesh Railway with safeguards, safety awareness, and procurement.

The stations will integrate design features that are friendly to the elderly, women, children, and people with disabilities.

The government is itself rehabilitating the 47-kilometer rail section between Chittagong and Dohazari.

Demand is expected to be high from 2.2 million people living in the Cox’s Bazar district and to make travel easier. All train stations will have connections to other kinds of transport.

The government is also keen to develop Cox’s Bazar as a tourism hub. Around 1.9 million tourists visit the beaches of Cox’s Bazar every year and with this expected to grow 5% annually, special tourist trains will operate between Dhaka and Cox’s Bazar along the new line.

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