The Indian Railways is taking the lead in a project where a train will potentially make a journey of 6,000 kilometers from Bangladesh to Afghanistan for the very first time. This container train will begin its journey at Dhaka, pass through India, Pakistan and Iran, with Istanbul being the final destination. The Indian Railways is in the process of setting up a group of different railway networks across West and South East Asia. Officials from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Iran, and Turkey are scheduled to meet to discuss this plan on 15 and 16 March, 2017.

Credit: Pixabay. Image for representational purposes only

Credit: Pixabay. Image for representational purposes only

The route it will be passing through is called the Trans-Asian Railway southern corridor, which was originally identified by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) to build a rail link between Thailand and Turkey. Because Myanmar has incomplete railway links, the container will be sent from Dhaka instead.

In 2016, the Indian Railways and Container Corporation of India visited Dhaka for a reconnaissance of the route that has been proposed. One hurdle that this project faces is that Pakistan has not allowed container freight trains from India to enter in the past, citing security reasons.

“The demonstration-run will happen very soon in 2017 and we will sort out all the issues with the countries concerned. This will also demonstrate to the world that there can be a real, commercial trans-Asian container corridor of this magnitude in the rail sector,” said Mohammad Jamshed, member of the railway board to the Indian Express.

Currently, Bhutan and Afghanistan lack rail networks. Bhutan will be connected to Kolkata by road and in Afghanistan, the containers will be connected by roads to the railway network in Quetta.

This train is being heralded as India’s answer to the China-Europe freight link, which was set up in January 2017. Goods traded between Ludhiana and Lahore have to take a roundabout route as of now. The Indian Railways stand to participate in considerably increasing economic growth by facilitating trade in this region. The train will also connect the capital cities of the countries it passes through.