India takes lead to run freight train from Dhaka to Istanbul
To showcase its might in freight transport, India is planning to develop a trans-continental freight corridor from Dhaka to Istanbul. The corridor will spread across five countries, which include Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Iran and Turkey.
The project is codenamed the ITI-DKD-Y corridor. The proposed container train is scheduled to travel from Dhaka-Kolkata-Delhi-Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul. Eventually, Yangon will also be connected to Dhaka.
One belt One road initiative:
India has borrowed inspiration from the ambitious Chinese project which plans to connect the East Asian economies with the developed countries of Western Europe.
The twin initiatives of the project include the Silk road economic belt(SREB) and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road (MSR).
- The SREB focusses on bringing together China, Central Asia, Russia and Europe and connecting China with South-East Asia, South Asia and the Indian Ocean.
- Whereas the 21st-Century MSR is designed to go from
- China’s coast to Europe through the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean
- China’s coast through the South China Sea to the South Pacific
Significant development that has provided impetus to the project:
- A missing rail link in Baluchistan province of Iran has been established. This will connect Iran to the Pakistan’s railway network.
- The link completes the Trans-Asian Railway Southern Corridor, which is being developed under the aegis of United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific(UNESCAP)
- Only a few operational and co-ordinational issues remains to be sorted out
- The demonstrational run will happen in 2017
- India is anchoring the project and has called a meeting of the South Asian railway heads to discuss all the nitty-gritty associated with the project
Issues and concerns that should be resolved:
Though Pakistan allows freight and passenger trains to run from Delhi to Lahore via Attari, it does not allow movement of containers citing security reasons.
Need for the trans-continental corridor:
Currently goods are transported from Ludhiana to Lahore via a long, indirect route, which are only a few hours apart by rail. This adds to a huge amount of cost.
The project is aimed towards a more integrated South Asia regional connectivity in the railway sector. In the recent past, countries across the world have realized the potential of carrying out trade through land routes which existed in the ancient era.