Rajeev Chandrasekhar's official website - Member of Parliament

GOVERNMENT OF INDIA

Ministry of External Affairs

RAJYA SABHA

UNSTARRED QUESTION NO. 4628

TO BE ANSWERED ON 17.05.2007

Trans-Asian Rail Project

4628.  SHRI RAJEEV CHANDRASEKHAR:

Will the Minister of EXTERNAL AFFAIRS be pleased to state:-

(a)whether the Trans-Asian Rail Project has taken a concrete shape by now;

(b)if so, the details thereof with the names of the countries which have agreed to participate in the project with the length of rail network in each country and the cost of the total project with share of each country there; and

(c)if not, by when the project is likely to be finalized? 

ANSWER

THE MINISTER OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
(SHRI PRANAB MUKHERJEE)

(a)-(c) The Trans-Asian Rail Project is an initiative of United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP). An Inter-Governmental Agreement on Trans-Asian Railway has been negotiated under the auspices of UN ESCAP in November 2006. The Agreement lists the railway lines of international importance and lays down the guiding principles for the technical characteristics for providing seamless transport. A copy of the Agreement is enclosed as an annexure.

Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Laos, Mongolia, Nepal, Republic of Korea, Russia, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey, Uzbekistan and Vietnam (18 countries) have so far signed the Agreement.

The Union Cabinet, in its meeting held on 08.03.2007, has approved the signing and ratification of the Inter-Governmental Agreement on Trans-Asian Railway by India. The process for signing the Agreement by India has been initiated by the Ministry of Railways.

The total Trans-Asian Rail network in 28 countries is 80,900 km. For India, the route will enter India at Tamu bordering Myanmar as well as from Bangladesh at Gede. On the West side, the route will enter Pakistan at Attari. In India, there is a missing link of 180 km between Jiribam and Tamu. The Ministry of Railways has sanctioned construction of 97 km new line from Jiribam to Tupul towards Tamu.

There are also several missing links in different countries for operationalising the whole network, which are required to be constructed within the national budgets of concerned countries.

RITES has completed a feasibility study in October 2005 for the India-Myanmar rail link. The study, which estimated a cost of Rs. 2941.08 crore for 219 km link between Jiribam to Moreh, has been shared with the Government of Myanmar.

ANNEXURE REFERRED TO IN REPLY TO RAJYA SABHA

UNSTARRED QUESTION NO. 4628 REGARDING “TRANS-ASIAN RAIL

PROJECT” FOR ANSWER ON 17.05.2007

INTERGOVERNMENTAL AGREEMENT ON

THE TRANS-ASIAN RAILWAY NETWORK 

THE CONTRACTING PARTIES,

CONSCIOUS of the need to promote and develop international rail transport in Asia and with neighbouring regions,

AWARE of the expected increase in the international transport of people and goods as a consequence of growing international trade in the ongoing process of globalization,

RECALLING the cooperation among members of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific in the formulation and operationalization of the Trans-Asian Railway Network,

CONSIDERING that in order to strengthen relations and promote international trade and tourism among members of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, it is essential to develop the Trans-Asian Railway Network, including stations and container terminals of international importance, to the requirements of international transport and the environment,

KEEPING also in view the role of railway transport as an important component of an effective and efficient international transport network, especially in addressing the specific needs of landlocked and transit countries,

HAVE AGREED as follows:

Article 1

Definition of Railway Lines of International Importance

For the purposes of the Intergovernmental Agreement on the Trans-Asian Railway Network (the “Agreement”), the term “railway lines of international importance” as described in Annex 1 shall refer to:

a)    Railway lines currently used for regular international transport;

b)    Railway lines, either existing, under construction, or planned, that are intended to be used for regular international transport;

c)    Ferry links ensuring continuous transport across seas or lakes between terminals in different States or within one State;

d)Border crossing points, gauge interchange stations, ferry terminals and rail-connected container terminals where Customs clearance facilities / services are provided.

Article 2

Adoption of the Trans-Asian Railway Network

The Contracting parties (the “Parties”) hereto adopt the railway lines of international importance described in Annex 1 to the Agreement as a coordinated plan for the development of railway lines of international importance which they intend to be undertaken within the framework of the national programmes of the Parties. 

Article 3

Development of the Trans-Asian Railway Network

The lines of the Trans-Asian Railway Network should be brought into conformity with the guiding principles related to technical characteristics described in Annex II to the Agreement.

Article 4

Procedure for signing and becoming a Party

  1. The Agreement shall be open for signature by States which the members of the United Nations Economic and Social Comission for Asia and the Pacific at Busan, Republic of Korea, on 10 and 11 November 2006 and thereafter at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 16 November 2006 to 31 December 2008.
  2. Those States may become Parties to the Agreement by:
    1. Signature subject to ratification, acceptance or approval, followed by ratification, acceptance or approval; or
    2. Accession.
  3. Ratification, acceptance, approval or accession shall be effected by the deposit of an instrument in good and due form with the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Article 5

Entry into force

  1. The Agreement shall enter into force on the ninetieth day following the date on which the Governments of at least eight (8) States have consented to be bound by the Agreement pursuant to Article 4, paragraph 2 and 3.
  2. For each State which deposits its instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession after the date upon which the conditions for the entry into force of the Agreement have been met, the Agreement shall enter into force for that State ninety (90) days after the date of its deposit of the said instrument.

Article 6

Working Group on the Trans-Asian Railway Network

  1.  All States which are members of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific shall be members of the Working Group.
  2. The secretariat shall notify all members of the Working Group of the request and shall convene a special meeting of the Working Group if not less than one third of the Parties signify their assent to the request within a period of four (4) months from the date of the notification by the secretariat.

Article 7

Procedures for amending the main text

  1. The main text of the Agreement may be amended by the procedure specified in this Article.
  2. Amendments to the Agreement may be proposed by any party.
  3. The text of any proposed amendment shall be circulated to all members of the Working Group by the secretariat at least forty-five (45) days before the Working Group meeting at which it is proposed for adoption.
  4. The amendment shall enter into force for that State twelve (12) months after the date of deposit of the said instrument.

Article 8

Procedures for amending annex I

  1. Annex I to the Agreement may be amended by the procedure specified in this Article.
  2. For the purpose of Article 8, a “directly concerned Party” is a Party in whose territory the subject of the proposed amendment is located.
  3. Amendments which change a border station may be proposed only by a directly concerned Party after consulting with and obtaining the written consent of the neighbouring State which shares the border to which the subject of the amendment is connected.
  4. Amendments that do not change a border station may be proposed by any directly concerned Party.
  5. The text of any amendment proposed by any Party shall be circulated to all members of the Working Group by the secretariat at least forty-five (45) days before the Working Group meeting at which it is proposed for adoption.
  6. The amendment as adopted shall be communicated by the secretariat to the Secretary – General of the United Nations, who shall circulate it to all Parties.
  7. An amendment adopted in accordance with paragraph 6 of the present Article shall be deemed accepted if, during a period of six (6) months from the date of the notification, less than one third of the Parties notifies the Secretary – General of the United Nations of their objection to the amendment.
  8. An amendment accepted in accordance with paragraph 7 of the present Article shall enter into force for all Parties three (3) months after the expiry of the period of six (6) months referred to in paragraph 7 of the present Article.

Article 9

Procedures for amending annex II

  1. Annex II to the Agreement may be amended by the procedure specified in this Article.
  2. Amendment may be proposed by any Party.
  3. The text of any proposed amendment shall be circulated to all members of the Working Group by the secretariat at least forty – five (45) days before the Working Group meeting at which it is proposed for adoption.
  4. The amendment as adopted shall be communicated by the secretariat to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, who shall circulate it to all Parties.
  5. An amendment adopted in accordance with paragraph 4 of the present Article shall be deemed accepted if during a period of six (6) months from the date of the notification, less than one third of the Parties notifies the Secretary-General of the United Nations of their objection to the amendment.
  6. An amendment accepted in accordance with paragraph 5 of the present Article shall enter into force for all Parties three (3) months after the expiry of the period of six (6) months referred to in paragraph 5 of the present Article.

 Article 10

Reservations

Reservations may not be made with respect to any of the provisions of the Agreement, except as provided in Article 13, paragraph 5.

Article 11

Withdrawal

Any Party may withdraw from the Agreement by written notification addressed to the Secretary-General of the United Nations.  The withdrawal shall take effect twelve (12) months after the date of receipt by the Secretary-General of such notification.

Article 12

Suspension of validity

The operation of the Agreement shall be suspended if the number of Parties becomes less than eight (8) for any period of twelve (12) consecutive months.  In such a situation the secretariat shall notify the Parties.  The provisions of the Agreement shall again become operative if the number of Parties reaches eight (8).

Article 13

Settlement of disputes

  1. If the Parties in dispute fail to agree on the choice of conciliators within three (3) months after the request for conciliation, any of those Parties may request the Secretary-General of the United Nations, to appoint a single independent conciliator to whom the dispute shall be submitted.
  2. The recommendation of the conciliator or conciliators appointed in accordance with paragraph 1 of this Article, while not binding in character, shall become the basis of renewed consideration by the Parties in dispute.
  3. By mutual agreement, the Parties in dispute may agree in advance to accept the recommendation of the conciliator or conciliators as binding.
  4. Paragraph 1, 2 and 3 of the present Articles shall not be construed to exclude other measures for the settlement of disputes mutually agreed between the Parties in dispute.
  5. Other Parties shall not be bound by the provision of the present relating to conciliation with respect to any Party which has deposited such a reservation.

Article 14

Limits to the application

  1. Nothing in the Agreement shall be construed as preventing a Party from taking such action, compatible with the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations and limited to the exigencies of the situation, as it considers necessary for its external or internal security.
  2. However, nothing in the Agreement shall be construed as acceptance of an obligation by any Party to permit the movement of goods and passenger traffic across its territory.

Article 15

Annexes

Annexes I and II to the Agreement shall form an integral part of the Agreement.

Article 16

Secretariat

The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific shall be designation the secretariat of the Agreement.

Article 17

Depositary

The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall be designated the depositary of the Agreement.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the undersigned, being duly authorized thereto, have signed the Agreement,

OPENED for signature on the tenth day of November two thousand and six at Busa, Republic of Korea, in a single copy in the Chinese, English and Russian languages, the three texts being equally authentic.

Annex I

TRANS-ASIAN RAILWAY NETWORK

                                                                                      ____________

 The Trans – Asian Railway network consists of the railway lines of international importance indicated below.

The lines that form the basis for describing the Trans-Asian Railway Network in each State are designated in bold with the origin and end stations and are then listed vertically.  Lines branching off are described to the right of the junction station.  Further branches are shown indented underneath this first branch.  All lines are of equal importance within the Trans-Asian Railway Network.

When lines start or finish at a border point, the first or last stations on that line are preceded or followed by the indication in brackets of the name of the border station and the name of the neighbouring State directly concerned.

The names of Stations that have specific functions on a line are followed by the indication of these functions in italics and brackets.  Such functions include:

-          (border station),            

-          (break-of-gauge),

-          (function),

-          (maritime connection), and

-          (ferry terminals).

Missing links are indicated in [square brackets]. 

Stations with container terminals to handle International Standards Organization (ISO) containers of at least 20-foot dimension in length and above are shown underlined.

 

 

 

LIST OF THE LINES IN THE TRANS-ASIAN RAILWAY NETWORK -- Click Here to see the list

 

 

ANNEX II 

GUIDING PRINCIPLES RELATING TO TECHNICAL CHARACTERISTICS

OF THE TRANS-ASIAN RAILWAY NETWORK

1. General

The development of the Trans-Asian Railway network, as defined in Annex I of the Agreement shall be guided by the following principles relating to technical characteristics.  Parties shall make every possible effort to conform to these principles both in constructing new rail sections and upgrading and modernizing existing ones.

2. Line capacity

Railway lines of international importance must provide adequate capacity so as to allow efficient, reliable and economical movement of rail services for goods and passengers.

3. Vehicle loading gauge

Given that the Trans – Asian network will be an important component in the definition of an integrated international intermodal transport network for countries of the ESCAP region, the existing lines of the network should be, wherever necessary, upgraded and future lines should be developed so as to provide unhindered movements of ISO containers of at least 20 – foot dimension in length and above.

4. Interoperability 

Technical requirements should ensure seamless transport of international goods and containers along railway lines of international importance.  Accordingly, railway lines and related infrastructure and equipment should meet international requirements, including those for the transport and transfer of heavy trains carrying goods such as, inter alia, petroleum products, coal, mineral ores, cement and grain.

Parties should take into consideration technical requirements of neighbouring contries, as well as other countries through which railway lines of international importance pass; and endeavour to upgrade their lines so as to remove technical restrictions and ensure interoperability between railways.

Where gauge continuity permits, or is likely to result from constructing missing sections across borders, specific issues arise as regards the compatibility of rolling stock used in international transport, including braking systems and couplings.  In this respect, the efficiency of railway operations across borders requires the use of air-braked rolling stock and compatible coupling systems.

For reference, the gauges of the Trans-Asian Railway network are as follows:

Railway gauge of TAR member countries (mm)

1.000

1.067

1.435

1.520

1.676

1. Bangladesh

Indonesia

1. China2

1. Armenia

1. Bangladesh1

2. Cambodia

2. Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

2. Azerbaijan

2. India

3. Lao People’s Democratic Republic

3. Republic of Korea

3. Georgia

3. Nepal

4. Malaysia

4. Islamic Republic of Iran

4. Kazakhstan

4. Pakistan

5. Myanmar

5. Turkey

5. Kyrgyzstan

5. Sri Lanka

6. Singapore 3

6. Mongolia

7. Thailand

7.  Russian Federation

8. Viet Nam4

8. Tajikistan

9. Turkmenistan

10. Uzbekistan

 Potential members of TAR: Japan (1,067 mm gauge) and the Philippines (1,067mm gauge).

  1. Part of railway network of the country.
  2. Features also a line (from/to Viet Nam) of 1,000 mm gauge
  3. Service provided by railways of Malaysia.
  4. Features also lines of 1,435 mm gauge and dual 1,000 / 1,435 mm gauge.

5. Standards for container terminals 

International intermodal traffic requires efficient container terminals.  The international container terminals along the lines of the Trans-Asian Railway network must:

-  be located as close as possible to the main trunk line so that no time is lost entering and exiting the terminal;

-  be set aside from other yards so that their operations are not hampered by other shunting movements;

- offer easy access to road vehicles so as to guarantee reliability of the road-rail interface:

- have track of sufficient length at loading / unloading area to reduce the need for shunting;

- be equipped with equipment comprising of gantry cranes, straddle-carriers, top-lifters and/or reach-stackers able to handle ISO containers of at least 20-foot dimension in length;

- make provisions for possible expansion;

- offer Customs facilities for the clearance of goods.