09 May 2004

Better Pacific-to-Europe Overland Routes Planned

The BBC recently reported on plans for a direct China to Europe rail-link using new narrow gauge tracks through Kazakhstan. The new line would be much faster than the Trans-Siberian link.
The Kazakh rail chief told the BBC work would shortly begin on the first part of a 3,000 kilometre train line to link China to Iran and the Caspian Sea.

It is hoped the time cargo from Pacific Ocean ports takes to reach western Europe will eventually be cut by half.

The current time freight takes on the same journey is 50 days by sea, or 15 days using the Trans-Siberian railway.

"It will definitely be faster than the Trans-Siberian railway," the head of Kazakhstan's national railways, Yerlan Atamkulov said.

"If today on the Trans-Siberian railway freight takes 15-16 days, then on the Kazakhstan transit railway, it will take eight days."

Kazakh and Russian railways use broad gauge tracks while Europe and China use international narrow gauge tracks.

Kazakhstan intends to build a new narrow-gauge railway line straight across its vast territory to the Caspian Sea, eliminating the time and cost needed to transfer goods from narrower to wider trains at the Chinese border....

Earlier this week, 23 Asian nations, including both Kazakhstan and China, signed an agreement in Shanghai to build an international highway network across Asia linking Tokyo with Istanbul in another grand scheme to improve transport links across Asia.
Asahi.com maps the route of the "Asia Highway": Tokyo - Fukuoka - Seoul - Pyongyang - Beijing - Hanoi - Bangkok - Yangon (Rangoon) - New Delhi - Islamabad - Kabul - Tehran - Istanbul.

It's all about the freight!

via huixing no nikki

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