In the 1980s and early 1990s, economic growth in the Asia-Pacific
region accelerates rapidly and international trade expands
to unprecedented levels. Primarily designed to serve national
needs, the transport systems of many countries of the region
are often not prepared to address the sudden increase in
cross-border traffic generated by the development of international
Aware of the benefits of market integration and of the role
of efficient transport in the process, the 48th session
of the UNESCAP Commission (Shanghai, April 1992) launches
the Asian Land Transport Infrastructure Development (ALTID)
project. The objective is to identify and develop road and
rail linkages best able to serve trade being exchanged across
The extent of the territory to be covered, the differences
in standards and the desire to ensure consistency with the
work of other subregional organizations influence the choice
of methodology. The idea of corridor studies receives the
approval of member countries as the most pragmatic way of
addressing all the relevant issue.
Over the period 1994-2001, UNESCAP undertakes the following
four corridor studies:
connecting the rail networks of China, Kazakhstan, Mongolia,
the Russian Federation and the Korean Peninsula (1995, refined
subregional network covering the ASEAN
and Indo-China subregions (1996). The countries involved
are: Cambodia, China (Yunnan province), Indonesia, Lao PDR,
Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam.
(1999) connecting Thailand and the southern Chinese
province of Yunnan with Turkey. The countries involved are:
Bangladesh, China (Yunnan province), India, the Islamic
Republic of Iran, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
corridor (2001) linking Northern Europe to the Persian
Gulf through the Russian Federation, Central Asia and the
Caucasus region. The countries involved are: Armenia, Azerbaijan,
Finland, Georgia, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Kazakhstan,
the Russian Federation, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
The objectives of the studies are to (i) identify the railway
lines best able to serve international trade, (ii) assess
their conformity with a set of technical requirements (e.g.
loading gauges, axle-load, speed), and (iii) appraise the
compatibility of operational practices between railway organizations
on both sides of different national borders to evaluate
the possibility and efficiency of cross-border movements
(e.g. couplers, length of trains).
The studies also identify the structure of tariffs relating
to international freight and the rules regulating the passage
of goods across borders as important issues for the future
efficiency of international rail freight corridors.
Finally, the studies assess the existence of break-of-gauge
points along each corridor as well as the existence of so-called
‘missing links’ making end-to-end movements
impossible on some of the routes.