In a bid to boost trade with China and ASEAN countries, India is exploring possibilities of a transit route through Bangladesh, which could bring down freight costs and reduce distances in the region.
"Such a possibility will adequately reduce the rail distance to just 350 kms between India and Bangladesh and sharply bringing down the freight cost," Railway Ministry sources told the media.
There are already five rail route linkages between India and Bangladesh -- Gede (India)-Darsana (B'desh) Broad Gauge, Singhabad (India)-Rohanpur (B'desh) Broad Gauge, Petrapole (India)-Benapole (B'desh) Broad Gauge and Radhikapur (India)- Shahbazar (B'desh) Metre Gauge.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Railway Minister Lalu Prasad have been stressing the need for opening Eastern Sector and link it with ASEAN and South-East Asian countries to boost trade and economic ties between the two regions.
India has been thinking of linking it with the railways of countries including Burma, Myanmar, China (Tibet), Laos, Cambodia and further connecting with Russia, thus reviving the old trans-Asian Railways.
On the request of Sri Lanka, India has also agreed to upgrade Colombo-Matara Coast Line of Sri Lankan Railways, they said adding that RITES Ltd have carried out a feasibility study for the project and submitted the same to government of Sri Lanka for further action.