The Trans-Asian Railway Network is a regional transport cooperation platform aimed at enhancing the efficiency and development of the railway infrastructure in Asia. It is part of ESCAP’s overall goal to see the development of an international, integrated, intermodal transport and logistics system for the region, with the Asian Highway and Trans-Asian Railway networks and dry ports of international significance as major components. The Trans-Asian Railway Network now comprises approximately 125,500 km of railway lines serving 28 countries.
The idea of linking the railway networks between the countries of the region as well as with the Middle Eastern and European systems was first expressed in 1960, followed by discussions and negotiations of the ESCAP member States which culminated in the adoption of an Intergovernmental Agreement on the Trans-Asian Railway Network by the Commission at its 62nd session in April 2006. The Agreement entered into force on 11 June 2009.
A Working Group on the Trans-Asian Railway Network was established to implement the Agreement and meets biennially. It considers the implementation of the Agreement and any amendments proposed by the Parties and serves as a platform for discussions on relevant matters. International railway transport in Asia still encounters significant obstacles due to various non-physical barriers . Recognizing these difficulties, ESCAP supports the efficient and smooth movement of goods by rail across the region through various transport facilitation measures, including Resolution 71/7 on Adoption of the Regional Cooperation Framework for the Facilitation of International Railway Transport in 2015. The Framework can be used by member States and their development partners in harmonizing requirements for international railway transport across the region. In addition, ESCAP has developed a draft framework for enhancing the efficiency of railway border crossings along the Trans-Asian Railway Network and beyond, which was welcomed by the Committee on Transport at its fifth Session. The framework identifies specific issues and provides targets and processes for resolving them with a view to making railway border crossings along the Trans-Asian Railway network more efficient.