Indian Railways along with seven other countries including Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan will explore the possibility of a transcontinental rail freight service connecting India with Iran and Turkey on Wednesday.
Besides the three countries, high-level delegations comprising railway and the custom officials from Russian Federation, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar will attend the two-day meet beginning in New Delhi on Wednesday.
While China has already run a freight train connecting Europe and attempts are being made to run a demonstrative run from Dhaka to Istanbul connecting Howrah, Delhi, Lahore and Tehran.
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu will address the conference on Wednesday highlighting the need for such rail connectivity for the development of the region, according to railways.
Considered to be a major boost for trade and economic development of the Asia-Pacific region, a trans-container goods train from Dhaka to Istanbul covering Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey is being considered to establish rail connectivity.
Organised by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in coordination with the Railways Ministry, the meeting will take forward the proposed railway transport connectivity in South and South-West Asia.
The meeting will seek to review and identify innovative measures to strengthen cross-border railway transport within South and South-West Asia; which is one of the least connected and integrated sub-regions in the world despite its vast contiguous landmass.
Strengthening railway connectivity is central to boosting economic growth, enhancing trade and transport connectivity and improving lives in the sub-region.
The meeting will bring together government officials and policy makers from nine countries in South Asia and South-West Asia and Central Asia, along with representatives from various International and regional organizations, railway and connectivity experts and academia, as well as the private sector.