The overall project is expected to cost $US 3.4 - $US 5.1bn and be implemented as a public-private partnership (PPP), with new lines from Isaka to Kigali and from Kesa to Gitega expected to cost $US 2.63bn. The project also includes an upgrade of the existing line from Dar es Salaam to Isaka and Tanzania's transport minister Mr Omari Nundu says there are several options under consideration for the line's design.

"If we decide to upgrade the existing line to dual gauge it will cost $US 996m, while if we decide to upgrade the existing line to standard gauge it will cost $US 912.1m," Nundu says adding that another option under consideration is the construction of new parallel standard-gauge railway via the planned port at Bagamoyo at a cost of $US 2.47bn.

"Once the money is made available it will take three to four years to complete the project," Nundu says.

The World Bank's country director for Tanzania Mr Philippe Dongier says the bank is excited to help the government of Tanzania to rebuild its rail and intermodal transport system. The line is expected to boost transport capacity in Tanzania and provide a viable and competitive alternative to road transport.

"The project will also indirectly help to boost agricultural trade, job creation, and overall livelihoods for the country and neighbouring countries' poorest people," Dongier says.