The line serves the populous Fergana valley and Namangan, Uzbekistan’s second largest city, which has a population of nearly 500,000 people.

A direct rail connection between the region and the Uzbek capital Tashkent was established last year with the completion of the 123.1km Angren - Pap line, which was electrically operated from the outset.

At present the Pap - Namangan - Andijan line is used by just three freight trains and two passenger services a day. Electrification of the route will be accompanied by the introduction of more frequent services and enable a three-hour journey time between Namangan and Taskhent, while also reducing carbon emissions by an estimated 10,000 tonnes per year.

Uzbekistan Railways (UTY) estimates that completing electrification of its network in the Fergana valley could quadruple rail freight volumes in the region.

The total cost of the project is $US 177.5m, with the government and UTY contributing the remaining $97.5m.

Uzbekistan electrified around 1000 route-km between 2009 and 2016, and 65% of the network will be electrified by 2025.

UTY recently launched a tender for electric locomotives, which will be funded with the aid of an ADB loan.