Regional: Railway Sector Development in Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation Countries

Sovereign Project | 52137-001

The knowledge and support technical assistance (TA) will accelerate the sound development of the railway subsector in Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) countries through (i) railway transport market research; (ii) project identification and preparation; (iii) knowledge sharing; and (iv) capacity development.

Project Details

  • Project Officer
    Sluijter, Jurgen
    Central and West Asia Department
    Request for information
  • Country/Economy
  • Sector
    • Transport
Project Name Railway Sector Development in Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation Countries
Project Number 52137-001
Country / Economy Regional
Kyrgyz Republic
China, People's Republic of
Project Status Active
Project Type / Modality of Assistance Technical Assistance
Source of Funding / Amount
TA 9641-REG: Railway Sector Development in Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation Countries
United Kingdom Fund for Asia Regional Trade and Connectivity under the Regional Cooperation and Integration Financing Partnership Facility US$ 1.00 million
People's Republic of China Poverty Reduction and Regional Cooperation Fund US$ 1.00 million
TA 9641-REG: Railway Sector Development in Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation Countries
Technical Assistance Special Fund US$ 500,000.00
Strategic Agendas Inclusive economic growth
Regional integration
Drivers of Change Governance and capacity development
Knowledge solutions
Private sector development
Sector / Subsector

Transport / Rail transport (non-urban) - Transport policies and institutional development

Gender Equity and Mainstreaming No gender elements

The knowledge and support technical assistance (TA) will accelerate the sound development of the railway subsector in Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) countries through (i) railway transport market research; (ii) project identification and preparation; (iii) knowledge sharing; and (iv) capacity development.

The TA is aligned with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Strategy 2030, ADB's Operational Plan for Regional Cooperation and Integration (20162020) , the CAREC Strategy 2030, CAREC Transport and Trade Facilitation Strategy 2020 (TTFS 2020), and the CAREC Railway Strategy 20172030. It is also complementary to other regional cooperation programs, such as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) of the People's Republic of China (PRC), the Transport Corridor EuropeCaucasusAsia program supported by the European Union, the Trans Asia Railway supported by the United Nations Economic and Social Council for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) and the Lapis Lazuli Corridor Agreement. The TA supports regional and inter-regional trade and cooperation and promotes ADB as a prime development partner in the railway sector in Central and West Asia, aiming for a strong, long-term engagement with CAREC member countries.

Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy

Transport remains the primary vehicle for regional cooperation and integration in CAREC countries. Aiming to transform CAREC countries from land-locked to land-linked status, the CAREC program supports the expansion of trade and improvement of economic development by more closely connecting the CAREC region with its larger and rapidly growing neighbors. Central Asia has great potential to benefit from growing Eurasian transit traffic and the intraregional trade which will develop in the coming decades. The development of an effective, efficient, sustainable, safe, and user-friendly multimodal corridor network is the primary means of achieving this goal. Transport has therefore remained the largest sector of activity in the 17-year history of the CAREC Program, accounting for more than 80% of investments and amounting to $25 billion.

Despite their importance, railways are struggling to remain competitive. Since rail networks have a long life, existing network configurations do not necessarily match new traffic patterns; many railways in the region are struggling to adapt to these changing conditions. Besides gaps in effective railway infrastructure, the lack of robust commercial capabilities and inadequate legal and regulatory frameworks has caused railway market shares to decline generally, and most railways are not fully able to capture available trade flows. An increasing amount of freight traffic is carried by roads rather than rail, costing the economy more than it should in the form of traffic congestion, road crashes and deterioration of road assets. As a result, interregional and intraregional trade is subjected to high transportation cost and bottlenecks.

Further development of railways requires ways to prioritize investments, structure financing and to improve institutions. A regional railway system improved with both infrastructure investments and soft measures will enhance access to regional and international markets and help increase economic growth and social welfare.

While new investments are needed to maintain and improve the competitiveness of railways, they are bulky, long-term and risky in nature, making them difficult to attract commercial financing. There is the continued need to seek financing and funding from both government and international financial institutions, with further considerations on how such public funds can crowd in private financing. Furthermore, an adequate regional traffic model is currently lacking, yet required to identify most promising rail transport routes, and hence to prioritize investments in rail infrastructure.

The institutional and commercial changes needed to improve financial sustainability of railway organizations are difficult to implement and time-consuming, requiring a systematic injection of knowledge and continued capacity building support. CAREC railways need to engage in a process of commercialization and reform to become efficient, customer-oriented transport operators, making investments economically viable. While the approach and pace of reform will differ among CAREC railway organizations, there is valuable knowledge to share in common areas, such as financial restructuring, corporatization, marketing, asset management, interoperability and railway safety.

At the 17th Meeting of the CAREC Transport Sector Coordinating Committee held on 1820 April 2018 in Istanbul, Turkey, member countries expressed particular interest in regional technical assistance that would help move the work of the RWG further forward to address described common challenges.


Railway transport that is quick, efficient, accessible for customers, easy to use throughout the region, and the mode of choice for trade achieved

Project Outcome
Description of Outcome

Railway investments in CAREC countries prioritized to match market opportunities and backed by sector reforms

Progress Toward Outcome
Implementation Progress
Description of Project Outputs

Subregional rail traffic model developed

Project preparation facility established

Knowledge products completed

Capacity of executing agencies in project preparation improved

Status of Implementation Progress (Outputs, Activities, and Issues)
Geographical Location Afghanistan - Nation-wide; Azerbaijan - Nation-wide; China - Nation-wide; Georgia - Nation-wide; Kazakhstan - Nation-wide; Kyrgyz Republic - Nation-wide; Mongolia - Nation-wide; Pakistan - Nation-wide; Tajikistan - Nation-wide; Turkmenistan - Nation-wide; Uzbekistan - Nation-wide
Summary of Environmental and Social Aspects
Environmental Aspects
Involuntary Resettlement
Indigenous Peoples
Stakeholder Communication, Participation, and Consultation
During Project Design
During Project Implementation
Business Opportunities
Consulting Services Individual international and national consultants will be hired on intermittent basis on output-based contracts where appropriate. Resource persons with specialized knowledge on key areas of the TA's scope will also be hired on basis of need. ADB will engage the consultants following the ADB Procurement Policy and ADB Procurement Regulations (2017, as amended from time to time) and their associated staff instructions Terms of Reference for Consultants (accessible from the list of linked documents in Appendix 3).
Responsible ADB Officer Sluijter, Jurgen
Responsible ADB Department Central and West Asia Department
Responsible ADB Division Transport and Communications Division, CWRD
Executing Agencies
Asian Development Bank
Concept Clearance 06 Jun 2018
Fact Finding 11 Apr 2018 to 11 Apr 2018
Approval 14 Nov 2018
Last Review Mission -
Last PDS Update 15 Nov 2018

TA 9641-REG

Approval Signing Date Effectivity Date Closing
Original Revised Actual
14 Nov 2018 - 14 Nov 2018 31 Dec 2022 30 Jun 2024 -
Financing Plan/TA Utilization Cumulative Disbursements
ADB Cofinancing Counterpart Total Date Amount
Gov Beneficiaries Project Sponsor Others
500,000.00 2,000,000.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 2,500,000.00 23 Dec 2022 1,277,213.66

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