Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)– The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of Bangladesh on Thursday signed agreement for $400 million in loan to help build a dual-gauge railway connecting Chattogram and Cox’s Bazar to promote trade, investment and tourism in Bangladesh.

Monowar Ahmed, Secretary, Economic Relations Division (ERD), and Manmohan Parkash, Country Director, ADB, signed the agreement on behalf of Bangladesh and ADB, respectively, at a ceremony in the capital Dhaka.

The assistance forms the second part of $1.5 billion ADB loans for the SASEC Chattogram-Cox’s Bazar Railway Project. The loan will finance around 27 per cent of the progress towards constructing 102 kilometers of new railway line between Chattogram and Cox’s Bazar.

“ADB is committed to help Bangladesh develop its railways, which is a safe, affordable and environment-friendly mode of transport,” said Country Director Manmohan Parkash.

“The project is a priority investment under Bangladesh’s Seventh Five Year Plan and will open up the unserved areas of Cox’s Bazar region by promoting investment, trade and tourism.”

“The project also integrates features that are friendly to the elderly, women, children, and people with disabilities,” Country Director Mr. Parkash added.

The new rail link, which opens in 2023, aims to transport 2.9 million passengers annually between Chattogram and Cox’s Bazar by 2024.

The construction of this railway section is one of several ADB railway projects to help Bangladesh meet its targets under its Seventh Five-Year Plan and Railway Master Plan.

The ADB also said Chattogram-Cox’s Bazar Railway is part of the Trans-Asia Railway network, an initiative led by United Nations, aiming to provide seamless rail links between Asia and Europe to better connect people and markets.