Global perspective Human stories

UN-backed trans-Asian rail agreement goes into effect

UN-backed trans-Asian rail agreement goes into effect

A railroad agreement aimed at linking 28 countries in Asia and Europe went into effect today, the United Nations announced in Bangkok.

The UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) said the Intergovernmental Agreement on the Trans-Asian Railway Network became operative 90 days after China became the eighth country to have ratified it. The other parties to the agreement – developed with UN assistance – are Cambodia, India, Mongolia, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Tajikistan and Thailand.

The network comprises 114,000 kilometres of rail routes linking 28 countries in the region. The aim is to offer efficient rail transport services for the movement of goods and passengers within the region and between Asia and Europe, ESCAP said.

The network will also provide improved access for landlocked countries to major ports, ESCAP said.

Noeleen Heyzer, Executive Secretary of ESCAP, told an inaugural ceremony in ESCAP’s Bangkok headquarters, “Modern economies cannot generate long-term growth and employment without highly efficient transport networks that are developed with a high level of integration.

“The timing of this agreement is particularly significant as leaders from our region promote intra-regional trade to stimulate recovery from the economic crisis. It will provide a more cost effective way of doing business and ensure the benefits of trade are more evenly distributed across the region,” Ms. Heyzer said.

“Countries worldwide are now realizing that rising demand for transport services can no longer be met by roads alone,” said Ms. Heyzer. “The recent fluctuation in the oil price, growing concern over energy-dependency and the environmental impact of the transport industry are pushing policy-makers to promote more environmentally-friendly and sustainable rail transport solutions.”