India is known to have world’s fourth largest rail network and it is now expanding its rail link with other countries like Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan. In India, three major international rail links have been operating currently. Some of the proposed rail routes are Manipur to Burma, Bhutan and Thailand, and Manipur to Vietnam.
Between Nepal and India, there are two railway routes, i.e. between Jaynagar in Bihar to Khajuri, Dhanusa, and Raxaul Junction Bihar to Sirsiya, Parsa. Jogbani Junction is located in Araria district of Bihar. It lies on Koshi Zone on Indo-Nepal Border with Morang District and an entrance to Biratnagar. At the border, there are customs checkpoints. There are no restrictions for Nepalese and Indians to cross borders.
Thar Express and Samjhauta Express are the only rail networks between India and Pakistan crossing Wagah border. Samjhauta Express runs only on Tuesdays and Fridays between Atari and Delhi and Lahore, Pakistan. The term “Samjhauta” refers to “accord”. Until Thar Express is reopened, Samjhauta Express was the only train between two nations. Started on July 22, 1976, after the Shimla Agreement, the train ran from Amritsar to Lahore, covering around 42 km of distance. Due to some disturbances, Indian Railways shifted the service at Atari in the late 1980s because of security reasons. Today the immigration and custom clearances are made at Atari. On April 14, 2000, Indian Railways and Pakistan Railways signed an agreement and distance between the two stations is just 3 km.
It is an international train that connects Dhaka, Bangladesh to Kolkata, India. Running 6 days a week on both sides, Maitree Express is the only rail route between Bangladesh and India. Also known as Dhaka-Kolkata Express, this international rail has been reopened after closure for 43 years. Also known as Friendship Express, the Maitree Express defines the importance of train service improving foreign relations between Bangladesh and India. The train was inaugurated on April 2008 on Bengali New Year.
Both Bhutan and India have planned to develop a rail network which would connect India to Bhutan. Both countries have signed MOU to connect Indian Railways to Bhutan railways. On January 2005, Manmohan Singh, former Prime Minister of India, and the King of Bhutan agreed to conduct study for rail networks. Some of the possible routes are Kokrajhar-Gelephu (70 km), Hasimara-Phuentsholing (18km), Rangla-Darranga-Samdrupjongkar (60 km), Pathsala-Naglam (40 km) and Banarhat-Samtse.
Currently, railway track between Burma and Manipur is under construction. Myanmar Railways or Burma Railways operates 5403 km metro gauge railway network in Myanmar which has 858 stations and it spans from north to south. It also operates Yangon Circular Railway, the commuter rail network in Yangon. It operates 379 passenger trains and 18 freight trains, serving up to 100,000 passengers every day. MR has significantly extended the route over the past two decades, from 3200 km to 5403 km in 2010.
Efforts of Central Government are underway to launch rail link from Jiribham (near Assam border) to Hanoi in Vietnam via Manipur.
Indian Railways is also considering a high-speed rail route connecting New Delhi, India to Kunming, China.
Indian Railways has also planned a rail link to connect India to Thailand through international train service.
After the construction of Burma Railway, Indian Railway will plan to connect India to Singapore through train.
Indian Railway will let trains to connect India to Malaysia through international train service when Burma Rail route rebuilds.