India and China both have extensive national rail networks. Is it possible to travel by train/rail between India and China? I have found several articles (e.g. at The Hindu and at India Today) discussing the possibility of an India-China link, which leads me to believe that there is no direct link. Can an India-China rail trip be done, either directly between the countries or by transiting other countries (e.g. Nepal, Pakistan, Bhutan, or Myanmar)? Changing trains is ok.

This question has nothing to do with what visas (if any) would be needed for such a trip. My question is whether such a rail link exists and, if so, whether a traveler could actually book travel along each leg.

Note based on answers so far:

While I specifically said that indirect travel using a third (or even fourth...) country would be a good answer, I think that it should be restricted to using at most two other countries (for example, India->Bangladesh->Myanmar->China), unless a case can be made as to why three or more transit countries would be considered reasonable for a journey. If the only way to go by rail would be a journey involving ten different train changes to Europe and ten back to Asia over a six week period just to get over the Himalayas, we can say that such a journey would not be reasonable and I would accept an answer of "No, this is not possible, because six weeks and 20 train changes" in that case.


4 Answers 4



India has train connections with Pakistan and Bangladesh, only. Bangladesh has no international train connections except with India. Pakistan also has a connection with Iran.

This is the Quetta - Zahedan line, but PakRail does not offer tickets for this line at the moment, at least, not online. So, perhaps this line is currently not running.

From Zahedan, there's an infrequent connection to Tehran. IranRail confirms this connection is active.

From Tehran, there 'normally' is a connection with Istanbul, but this line has been put on hold due to the unrest in Syria, Iraq and Turkey.

If Tehran - Istanbul would be available, from Istanbul, you could, for example, make your way to Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Russia (or Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Poland, Belarus, Russia) and, from there, to China.

So, at the moment, the Tehran - Istanbul line not running is what would certainly prevent you from making an overland train connection between India and China.

  • 21
    That is a terribly convoluted connection to go to a neighbouring country.
    – tomasz
    Jan 3, 2017 at 15:20
  • 2
    Yeah. Even if working that is a heck of a way to move there. Maybe a little detour to see Paris, Berlin, Moskau would be in order. Not that much given where you already go.
    – TomTom
    Jan 3, 2017 at 18:51
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    @tomasz well when the "easiest" option for a direct connection would almost be to run a 1000 mile long rail tunnel that drills through the entire Himalayan range... I'll admit I was mildly surprised there wasn't a link running from eastern India through Myanmar and into southern China too. Jan 3, 2017 at 19:21
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    I agree that this is a rather complex solution to a seemingly straightforward problem. OTOH, it's also quite adventurous.
    – MastaBaba
    Jan 3, 2017 at 20:42
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    A train line is planned from Tibet to Nepal, only a matter of time until it is built and continued to India.
    – S..
    Jan 4, 2017 at 13:55

As of now there's no rail route available between India & China. However a direct railway route between Pakistan and China is under plans i.e. Khunjerab Railway which will be an extension to the currently active Taxila-Khunjerab Railway Line. If this project gets up and running in that case you can travel from India to Pakistan and from there to China

  • 3
    Do you have any information on when that planned route would be up and running?
    – mts
    Jan 3, 2017 at 13:14
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    @mts he is right khunjerab railway is under way and is one of cpec highway under construction. CPEC is a game changer in the region, once it is finished and commenced in 2 years , there would be a really good connection from chine to pakistan to india or vice verca.
    – Ali Awan
    Jan 3, 2017 at 14:07
  • @AliAwan good pointer and +1 to the A now, however the project seems still to be in the phase of feasability studies and declarations of intent, the only article naming a completion date projects something like 2025-2030, so one would be in for quite a wait at the moment.
    – mts
    Jan 4, 2017 at 10:32
  • @mts project would be commended in next 2 to 3 years. At least train from kashgar to Pakistan would start within 2 to 3 year, that's what we read in the news. The rest of the cpec could take sometime
    – Ali Awan
    Jan 4, 2017 at 11:16
  • 1
    Looks like the project went nowhere :/
    – JonathanReez
    Aug 15, 2022 at 18:22

Your best bet for an overland trip at the moment may be to...

  1. Travel from India, to Kathmandu in Nepal (look up seat 61.com -> Nepal, eg you could get train to Gorakhpur).

  2. Get a bus from there to Lhasa (although there are conflicting reports about whether that is still running, or perhaps go on an organised tour).

  3. From there you can catch a train on the relatively new Qinghai-Lhasa Railway to the rest of China, which features the highest section of railway, railway station & railway tunnel in the world.

Also note, there are no border crossings between India & Tibet that are open to foreigners, you have to go via Nepal instead. (Cannot post source due to limits on low-rep accounts)


No at the moment but after completion of CPEC, there will be the possible route to the connectivity of these countries. As OBOR is a development strategy that could help to connect and khunjerab is the highway of CPEC under construction at the moment.

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