A new Star is rising over the East, and it may herald a world changing era of partnership between Asia’s two giants and a corridor of prosperity to Europe.
This corridor, still in the conceptual stage, has been named the Trans-Asian Railway (STAR), running from Kapikale in the European part of Turkey to Kunming in southern China. In the audacity of its ambition, it aims to secure a European bridgehead for the great production centres of Asia. For Europe, its manufacturers would gain easy and convenient access to the great Asian markets.
By 2030, Asia is expected to account for about 60% of the world’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). With much of the fast growing territories of Asia in its south, any transport link with southern China,Vietnam, Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and South Asia will integrate a region that now accounts for the bulk of the world’s population; and in due course the much of its GDP too. Thus, there can be few questions about the desirability of STAR.
The total project cost is estimated to be less than USD $5 billion – well within the reach of the economies involved. The region also has the technical skills and experience in the building and managing of such projects. China has demonstrated its engineering skills by building the Xining-Lhasa railway and India is doing likewise with the Jammu-Baramula line, constructing bridges over high mountains and deep gorges, at altitudes of more than 16,000 feet and depths beyond 2,000 feet. As only about 1,800 kms needs to be built,STAR is mostly readymade and neither geography nor commercial feasibility pose any major challenge.