UK-Bangladesh rail link via Pakistan
* Report says 7,000-mile long rail to be opened later this year
LONDON: Rail enthusiasts looking for an adventure will be able to travel by train from London to Dhaka when a new link opens later this year.
The 7,000-mile Trans-Asia railway will follow one of the old Silk Roads through Istanbul, Tehran, Lahore and Delhi and the whole journey will take 23 days to complete, reports The Sunday Times.
It is already being described by train buffs as “the world’s greatest railway journey” and will be longer than the Trans-Siberian railway, which spans 5,772 miles, the report says.
Under a United Nations-sponsored scheme, Pakistan and Iran will link up their railway lines in the coming months in order to join the subcontinent’s track to that of Europe for the first time. The UN said the link would open new trade routes within Asia and give rail access to the former Soviet republics and to Iran’s strategic seaport at Bandar Abbas.
The route was extended when the Calcutta-Dhaka line reopened earlier this month, more than 40 years after it was blocked during the India-Pakistan war of 1965. The paper said that senior Indian officials met their Iranian counterparts last week in Tehran to discuss progress.
India has already earmarked £90 million to extend its vast rail network towards its border with Burma. From there, a 218-mile-long section of track is missing in the way of an overland rail journey from London to Singapore.
Travellers will soon be able to leave London for Brussels, Cologne, Vienna, Bucharest, Istanbul, Tehran, Quetta, Lahore, Amritsar, Delhi and Calcutta before reaching the end of the line in Dhaka. Iranian engineers have extended their network through Kerman to the Pakistan border, where travellers will switch to a Pakistani train before continuing their journey to Quetta.
China, a big supporter of the project, is spending billions on extending rail lines to its Burmese border, the weekly said.
Rail enthusiast Mark Smith told the newspaper that the journey offered a return to romantic overland adventure, despite some security concerns on the Iran-Pakistan border.
“If you have the time, a taste for adventure and can arrange the necessary tickets and visas, this promises to be a truly epic overland journey,” he said. app