Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Tuesday, Sep 21, 2004
Trans Asian Rly draft to be ready for review by Nov
New Delhi , Sept. 20
THE draft agreement for implementation of the Trans Asian Railway (TAR) will be ready by November this year.
TAR aims to build a railway link across various Asian and East European countries. Meanwhile, experts pointed out the need to have reduced timings for inter-country transits in order to make the rail-link viable.
"An expert level regional meeting will be held in Bangkok in November 2004 where routes for the TAR will be formalised. The draft will also finalise the issue of standardisation," said Mr John R. Moon, Chief of Transport and Tourism Division at UNESCAP, at the seminar being held here for Chief Executives of Railway bodies of the BIMSTEC nations.
Bay of Bengal Initiative for Mutli Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is a forum with Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan as its members.
TAR is endorsed by the United Nations' Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) Commission under its Asian Land Transport Infrastructure Development (ALTID) project.
While the draft agreement will be ready by November 2004, it will be up for review and a final form will be given to it in November 2005 at an inter-governmental meeting, said Mr Moon. The agreement is slated for adoption in 2006 at the Ministerial Conference on infrastructure, he said.
TAR implementation is under way in a "step-by-step corridor studies" approach the Northern Corridor, Southern Corridor, Indo-China and Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN); and the North-South Corridor.
The Northern Corridor includes rail links across China, Kazakhstan, North and South Korea, and the Russian Federation. The Southern Corridor involves Bangladesh, China, India, Iran, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Turkey. The North-South Corridor involves Armenia, Azerbaijan, Finland, Iran, Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Indo-China and ASEAN link includes Cambodia, China, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
While the Northern corridor has a "high degree of operational readiness with just one missing link", the routes TAR in ASEAN is under development has numerous missing links, said Mr Moon. There are numerous missing links in the Southern Corridor as also the North-South Corridor.
Earlier, the Planning Commission Member, Mr Anawarul Hoda, said it was pleasing that UNESCAP had taken a major initiative to give concrete shape to this project.
"Realisation of such Railway system will have immense multiplier benefits for the member countries of the BIMSTEC," Mr Hoda said. The Railway Board Chairman, Mr R.K. Singh, who heads the Indian delegation, said that during the two-day meeting, the BIMSTEC nations' Railway representatives will dwell on "interconnectivity and interoperability issues".
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