The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is is set to sign Sunday a $505 million loan deal with the government for financing the "South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) Connectivity: Akhaura-Laksam Double Track" project.
ADB country director Kazuhiko Higuchi and Senior Secretary of the Economic Relations Division (ERD) Mohammad Mejbahuddin will sign the agreement at the NEC-2 conference room at the Sher-e-Bangla Nagar in the capital city.
Under the project, Bangladesh Railway will upgrade the 72-kilometer Akhaura-Laksam section of the Dhaka-Chittagong railway corridor to a double track railway line with modern signaling equipment.
The project will also improve 11 railway stations and strengthen the capacity of the railway sector in project management and implementation.
According to a project paper, "By increasing the capacity of a major international trade corridor, the project will boost the national economy and facilitate subregional cooperation and trade".
The project was endorsed by the SASEC Trade Facilitation and Transport Working Group in a meeting held in Singapore on October 30, 2013.
Akhaura-Laksam section is part of a major subregional corridor and the Trans-Asia Railway network.
Having border with India and Myanmar and close proximity to the landlocked countries of Bhutan and Nepal, Bangladesh has the potential to become a transport and transshipment center for the subregion, the ADB document said.
There are two more projects under construction for laying double tracks on the railway line - the 64 km Tongi-Bhairab-Bazar section and the 61 km Chinki-Astana-Laksam section.
The first project is financed by ADB under its Railway Sector Investment Programme when the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is financing the second project. Both the projects are scheduled to be completed in 2015.