The Indian Railways is now exploring the prospects of tying up with neighbouring nations to develop international rail corridors in both the eastern and western regions which may provide extended links with countries like Myanmar, China, Russia,Iran and even the Middle East.
Such corridors, which will be used to transport freight, are expected to have a major impact on trade as they would greatly cut down the transportation costs of goods in comparison to the sea route.
For starters, the government is keen to have a rail link between India and Myanmar in the eastern region which could provide a through passage upto South East Asian nations, China and even Russia.
According to Railway Board Chairman JP Batra, the matter is being pursued with the Myanmar government and no final decision has been taken upon it as yet. Batra has been elected as the Chairman of the Paris-based International Union of Railways (UIC) which is actively pursuing the concept of international freight corridors by approaching the governments of various countries on the issue.
In the western region, India is looking at the prospects of promoting a corridor that would link it with Iran via Pakistan. Such a corridor could be extended further to the railways in the Middle East countries, Batra stated.
If cleared by both India and Myanmar, the eastern corridor could be completed within three to five years and has the potential to become a major trade route in the future, particularly for dealings with China, according to the Railway Board Chairman.
The Myanmar-China rail link is already under progress and will further connect Russia. The Chinese and Russian railways are working on it.
It would take less than one-fourth time to reach the region from India than by the sea route.