India has signed the Inter-Governmental Agreement on Trans-Asian Railways along with Bangladesh to strengthen rail linkages in the region, especially with South Asian countries and boost trade between Asia and Europe.
The agreement was signed in United Nations on Friday by JP Batra, chairman of the Railway Board, Indian Railways, on behalf of India.
With India and Bangladesh signing the agreement, 20 countries have become signatories of the pact. The 18 other countries had signed the pact at Busan, South Korea in November 2006.
The 80,900 km railway network covers 28 countries including 22,600 km in South Asia, Iran and Turkey. The southern corridor of the network, as decided in an expert group meeting held in Dhaka in 1999, commences from Kunming in China and Bangkok in Thailand and ends in Kapikule in Bulgaria.
The total length of the route between Bangkok and Kapikule is 11,460 km and it provides trans-continental rail connectivity to China, Thailand, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Iran and Turkey.
The network will provide an opportunity for improving rail linkages to India's northeastern states and harmonise the rail network in the region.
The route will enter India at Tamu in Manipur, bordering Myanmar, before going to Bangladesh and re-enter India at Gede in North 24 Parganas, West Bengal.
On the western side, the route is proposed to enter Pakistan at Attari. This route has a missing link of 315 km between India and Myanmar of which 180 km is in India between Jiribam and Tamu in Manipur.
The railway network will improve transport linkages between Asia and Europe and facilitate movement of goods and containers among the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries, resulting in enhanced trade.