Pakistan to expand rail links to Europe, Middle East


As part of its endeavor to expand the rail network to Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East, Pakistan is set to become a member of the inter-governmental Organisation for International Carriage by Rail (OTIF) soon, allowing businessmen to export goods worldwide through uniform tariff.
Pakistan would have to fulfill the limitations, precautions and liabilities under the Codification of Intergovernmental Organisation for International Carriage by Rail (COTIF), acceded by the European Union (EU) in July, 2011 in order to enjoy the full status as a member of the organisation. Set up in 1985, the objective of the organisation was to develop a uniform system of law for the international carriage of passengers and freight through rail. It would take Pakistan at least six months to install the system, finalise the freight charges and the volume of traffic under the OTIF. Pakistan would pay annual fee to the OTIF to enjoy access to various parts of the world. Currently, 46 states are OTIF members and benefit from the international carriage on railway infrastructure of around 250,000 kilometres and the complementary carriage of freight and passengers on several thousand kilometres of shipping routes, inland waterways and roads.
The OTIF membership would help Pakistan achieve contracts of the international carriage of passengers and goods, use of vehicles and railway infrastructure and the validation of technical standards and adoption of uniform technical prescriptions for railway material. The Minister for Railways Ghulam Ahmed Bilour said that the federal cabinet had already given its consent to the membership and now the railways ministry would move a summary to the prime minister for final approval. Earlier, OTIF Secretary General Stefan Schimming had briefed the railways minister on the prospects of the proposed international link.
India is not a member of OTIF yet and Pakistan would have a competitive edge to spread its trade route further. The Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) container route of Istanbul-Islamabad via Tehran was being used but with some problems that would be resolved once Pakistan gains OTIF membership. The government is also working on new tracks, including the 140-kilometre Peshawar–Jalalabad and the 170-kilometre Chaman–Kandhar tracks. The railways ministry was in touch with Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and the ECO Secretariat to rehabilitate the Quetta-Taftan link, to curtail the transit time. Pakistan having its border links with Afghanistan, Iran, China and India has the shortest link to Arabian Sea, besides the sea ports of Karachi, Bin Qasim, and Gawadar increase the maritime activity and transportation for the landlocked countries. The World Trade Organisation (WTO) regime, reconstruction of Afghanistan and the rising trade links with the Central Asia highlight the country’s need to develop international corridors. Hence, the government is encouraging the private sector to invest in railways under public-private partnership plans.


  1. What a joke. Pakistan whick cannot take care of its domestic Railways, wants to expand the rail network to Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East.

  2. It's not a joke. Once the project is approved, it will open doors to massive corruption. All people connected to the project will buy big houses and cars. They will move from a 5 Marla house to a 2 kanal house within a matter of months.

  3. This will only make the railways poorer as they will have to pay a sum to the OTIF for membership. Time to think why China and India who have profitable and popular railway services are not members of OTIF?

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