Rail freight service to connect India with 7 countries
New Delhi: In an ambitious move, Indian Railways (IR) is exploring the possibility of a transcontinental rail freight service connecting India with Iran & Turkey. Considered to be a major boost for trade & economic development of the Asia Pacific region, a trans-container goods train from Dhaka to Istanbul covering Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran & Turkey.
- At present, even though Bhutan & Afghanistan do not have rail connectivity, Bhutan can be connected by road from Kolkata and in Afghanistan containers can be loaded by connecting road routes with the railway network at Quetta.
- Codenamed the ‘ITI-DKD’ route, the ambitious international project covering about 6,000 kilometers aims to significantly reduce the currently high tariff & non-tariff costs to trade between these countries.
- Taking the lead in the intra—regional freight transport, Indian Railways has convened a meeting of South Asian railway heads involved in the project on March 15-16.
- Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) has conducted various conferences and feasibility studies on railway network connecting Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran & Turkey.
- A senior Railway Ministry official said, ESCAP has identified Dhaka-Kolkata-Delhi-Amritsar-Lahore-Islamabad-Zahedan-Tehran-Istanbul as the possible rail route.
- The ITI to DKD route has the strategic advantage of connecting the capitals of these countries.
- A demonstration container train between Bangladesh-India has been planned in the first quarter of 2017—18, the modalities for which have been agreed by senior Railway officials of both countries, according to the railways.