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Road vs Rail: India Counters China's OBOR With Freight Train to Turkey via Iran

© AFP 2023 / SAM PANTHAKYIndian workers unload freight from an Indian Railways train at a new private freight terminal in Sachana village near Viramgam, some 50 kms from Ahmedabad
Indian workers unload freight from an Indian Railways train at a new private freight terminal in Sachana village near Viramgam, some 50 kms from Ahmedabad - Sputnik International
India has had plans to counter China’s economic influence in Bangladesh but had failed to garner interest due to sustained delay in completion of projects.

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New Delhi (Sputnik) — India has decided to run a trans-continental freight train from Bangladesh to Turkey as an answer to China’s efforts to cart its goods to Europe by train and the One Border One Road initiative.

As part of the plan, a demonstration run to cover the 6,000-km journey with a full load of goods will be conducted by June this year. The Indian government has invited railway officials of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran and Turkey for a meeting on March 15 to fine-tune the ambitious project. Indian government sources told Sputnik that most of the countries have expressed their consent for the demonstration run.

“The demonstration run will happen very soon in 2017 and we will sort out all the issues with the countries concerned. This will also demonstrate to the world that there can be a real, commercial trans-Asian container corridor of this magnitude in the rail sector,” Mohammad Jamshed, India’s Railway Board Member told Indian Express.

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China had initiated a rail-freight service to Britain this January which covered more than 12,000 km (7,500 miles) in about 18 days, passing through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Belgium and France.

Though India has planned a counter-strategy to China, which has used railway and road projects as a diplomatic tool to expand its economic outreach, Delhi has failed to implement it due to lack of financial resources.

China has linked rail route to countries like Afghanistan and Bangladesh which is considered Delhi’s closest neighbor. China is aiming $3 trillion natural resources of Afghanistan through rail route which takes only two weeks from the east of China in comparison to three to six months that road transport takes between Pakistan and Afghanistan. India also aimed to make inroads into Afghanistan’s natural resources hub through Chabahar port but the inordinate delay by Iran has left India worried.

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