THE Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a US$110 million loan to cover part of the construction cost for the proposed second national north-south railway between Beijing and Hongkong. The Heifei-Jiujiang railway project, which constitutes a vital portion of the entire route, will cost about US$378 million. An ADB spokesman said the bank was responsible for only about 29 per cent of the funding while the balance would be provided by local agencies including banks and other financial institutions. ''It is the ADB's normal practice to only fund part of the project while the borrower itself must finance the rest to show its commitment,'' the spokesman said. The project, scheduled to be completed in mid-1997, will provide 335 kilometres of track linking Anhui's capital Hefei in the north to neighbouring Jiangxi province's river port of Jiujiang in the south. However, the spokesman declined to say whether the ADB was interested in providing loans for the other parts of the railway project. Apart from providing a single-track standard gauge railway line, the project will include the acquisition of diesel locomotives and rolling stock, and the construction of stations and bridges. The ADB portion will come from the bank's ordinary capital resources and will carry an interest rate determined by the bank's pool-based variable lending rate system for US dollar loans. The repayment period is 24 years including a four-year grace period. It was reported last month that China was planning to complete the proposed railway link between Beijing and Hongkong in 1995, two years ahead of the schedule. Meanwhile, the ADB is also providing a $600,000 technical assistance grant to strengthen the business and commercial practices of the Anhui provincial government. In recent years, the bank has successfully implemented two railway projects on the mainland, one in Shanxi and one in Guangdong, and is helping to finance a third project in Guangdong.