Indian Railways gives new push to North-South Transport Corridor
State-owned Indian Railways is to host a meeting of the heads of its fellow South Asian railway companies next week to discuss the possibility of pushing forward the development a transcontinental rail freight service that would run through Iran and Turkey. If the 6,000 km project were to be realised, it is expected to give a major boost to the trade and economic development of India’s poorer neighbours such as Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan and Afghanistan by reducing the current high levels of cross-border tariff and non-tariff costs.
The idea complements plans to open up an intermodal route running from Mumbai and other ports along Azerbaijan’s Caspian Sea coast to Russia and northern Europe that was officially endorsed by Russia, India and Iran in 2002. Since then, a further 11 other countries have signed up to the project – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria (observer status), Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Oman, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkey and Ukraine.