The Asian Highway Network (AH), also known as the Great Asian Highway, is a cooperative project among countries in Asia and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) to improve their connectivity via highway systems. It is one of the three pillars of the Asian Land Transport Infrastructure Development (ALTID) project, endorsed by the ESCAP commission at its 48th session in 1992, comprising Asian Highway, Trans-Asian Railway (TAR) and facilitation of land transport projects.
Agreements have been signed by 32 countries to allow the highway to cross the continent and also reach to Europe. Some of the countries taking part in the highway project are India (Look-East connectivity projects), Sri Lanka, Pakistan, China, Iran, Japan, South Korea, Nepal and Bangladesh. Most of the funding comes from the larger, more advanced Asian nations such as China, South Korea and Singapore as well as international agencies such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).
The project aims to make maximum use of the continent's existing highways to avoid the construction of newer ones, except in cases where missing routes necessitate their construction. Project Monitor, an Asian infrastructure news website, has commented that "early beneficiaries of the Asian Highway project are the planners within the national land transport department of the participating countries [since] it assists them in planning the most cost-effective and efficient routes to promote domestic and international trade. Non-coastal areas, which are often negligible, are the other beneficiaries."
However, in the mid-2000s some transportation experts[who?] were skeptical about the viability of the project given the economic and political climate in both South and Southeast Asia.
The AH project was initiated by the United Nations in 1959 with the aim of promoting the development of international road transport in the region. During the first phase of the project (1960–1970) considerable progress was achieved, however, progress slowed down when financial assistance was suspended in 1975.
ESCAP has conducted several projects in cooperation with AH member countries step by step after the endorsement of ALTID in 1992.
The Intergovernmental Agreement on the Asian Highway Network (IGA) was adopted on November 18, 2003, by the Intergovernmental Meeting; the IGA includes Annex I, which identifies 55 AH routes among 32 member countries totalling approximately 140,000 km (87,500 miles), and Annex II "Classification and Design Standards". During the 60th session of the ESCAP Commission at Shanghai, China, in April 2004, the IGA treaty was signed by 23 countries. By 2013, 29 countries had ratified the agreement.
The advanced highway network would provide for greater trade and social interactions between Asian countries, including personal contacts, project capitalizations, connections of major container terminals with transportation points, and promotion of tourism via the new roadways.
According to notable Indian historian Dharampal, "It's an excellent step taken by ESCAP to gather all the Asian countries under one crown but the problem with this project is political disputes between some countries, notably Pakistan and Myanmar, which is delaying the project".[dubious ]
Route AH1 is proposed to extend from Tokyo to the border with Bulgaria (EU) west of Istanbul and Edirne, passing through both Koreas, China and other countries in Southeast, Central and South Asia. The corridor is expected to improve trade links between East Asian countries, India and Russia. To complete the route, existing roads will be upgraded and new roads constructed to link the network. US$25 billion has been spent or committed as of 2007, with additional US$18 billion needed for upgrades and improvements to 26,000 km of highway.
The project new highway route numbers begin with "AH", standing for "Asian Highway", followed by one, two or three digits. Single-digit route numbers from 1 to 9 are assigned to major Asian Highway routes which cross more than one subregion. Two- and three-digit route numbers are assigned to indicate the routes within subregions, including those connecting to neighbouring subregions, and self-contained highway routes within the participating countries. Route numbers are printed in the Latin script and Hindu-Arabic numerals and may simply be added to existing signage, like the E-road network.
The actual design of the signs has not been standardized, only that the letters and digits are in white or black, but the color, shape and size of the sign being completely flexible. Most examples feature a blue rectangular shield with a white inscription (similar to German Autobahn signage) with further examples of white on green and black on white rectangular shields.
What is believed to be the first car crossing of the full extent (East to West) of the new Asian Highway was achieved by Britons Richard Meredith and Phil Colley in 2007 driving an Aston Martin.
Following the AH1 and the AH5 from Tokyo (the Highway grid's furthest point East) to Istanbul (furthest West), they drove a total of 12,089 km (7,511.8 miles) before joining the European motorway network for another 3,259 km (2,025 miles) to London.
Including ferry trips and customs clearance delays, the journey took 49 days and crossed 18 countries.
The completed route was verified by Aston Martin and the UN's Asian Commission (UNESCAP) in Bangkok, whose director of transport and tourism Barry Cable confirmed "I can warrant that, to my best knowledge, this was the first car to undertake this journey".
Eurowatch in London provided independent corroboration by tracking the car's location from satellite position reports and plotting the vehicle's location throughout the journey.
Meredith, a travel author and veteran of distance-driving events, agreed to make the attempt after attending the Asian Highway Treaty's "coming into force" ceremony in Bangkok on 4 July 2005.
He was lent an Aston Martin V8 Vantage, which had previously been the personal transport of the company's chief executive Dr Ulrich Bez and recruited Phil Colley, a linguist and travel expert from Kennington, South London, to be his co-driver. The car was shipped out to Tokyo by the company and they set off on 25 June 2007.
Although the trip was facilitated by UNESCAP through its member nations, there were still extensive problems including enforced detours and interminable customs clearance delays in China, pot-holed roads in Kazakhstan and leaded-only fuel in Uzbekistan. In Tbilisi, Georgia, the journey car crashed after being left on a hillside with its handbrake unsecured.
When the record-setting car returned, a welcome-home reception was staged by Aston Martin at the Park Lane Hotel in London and Meredith later received a civic award from his home town of Milton Keynes.
The car was sold at auction in December 2007 by Bonhams and the proceeds donated to UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund. In March 2008, a total collection of €83,000 was presented to UNICEF China for a campaign to reduce child deaths on the roads of Beijing.
|AH30||2,739 km (1712 miles)||Ussuriysk, Russia||Chita, Russia|
|AH31||1,595 km (997 miles)||Belogorsk, Russia||Dalian, China|
|AH32||3,748 km (2342.5 miles)||Sonbong, North Korea||Khovd, Mongolia|
|AH33||575 km (359 miles)||Harbin, China||Tongjiang, China||Also known as G1011|
|AH34||1,033 km (646 miles)||Lianyungang, China||Xi'an, China|
|AH35||1,305 km (811 miles)||Undurkhaan, Mongolia||Jinzhou, China|
|AH41||948 km (592.5 miles)||Teknaf, Bangladesh||Mongla, Bangladesh|
|AH42||3,754 km (2346 miles)||Lanzhou, China||Barhi, India|
|AH43||3,024 km (1892 miles)||Agra, India||Matara, Sri Lanka (Via) Rameswaram, TN, IN|
|AH44(A6)||107 km (67 miles)||Dambulla, Sri Lanka||Trincomalee, Sri Lanka|
|AH45||2,030 km (1269 miles)||Kolkata, India||Chennai, TN, India|
|AH46||1,967 km (1,222 miles)||Hazira port, Surat, India||Howrah, India|
|AH47||2,057 km (1286 miles)||Gwalior, India||Bengaluru, Karnataka, India|
|AH48||276 km (171 miles)||Thimphu, Bhutan||Changrabandha, India|
|AH51||825 km (513 miles)||Peshawar, Pakistan||Quetta, Pakistan|
|AH60||2,151 km (1344 miles)||Omsk, Russia (on AH6)||Burubaital, Kazakhstan (on AH7)|
|AH61||4,158 km (2599 miles)||Kashgar, China (on AH4/AH65)||border between Russia and Ukraine|
|AH62||2,722 km (1701 miles)||Petropavl, Kazakhstan (on AH6/AH64)||Mazari Sharif, Afghanistan (on AH76)|
|AH63||2,434 km (1521 miles)||Samara, Russia (on AH6)||Guzar, Uzbekistan (on AH62)|
|AH64||1,666 km (1041 miles)||Petropavl, Kazakhstan (on AH6/AH62)||Barnaul, Russia (on AH4)|
|AH65||1,250 km (781 miles)||Kashgar, China (on AH4/AH61)||Termez, Uzbekistan (on AH62)|
|AH66||995 km (622 miles)||border between China and Tajikistan||Termez, Uzbekistan (on AH62)|
|AH67||2,288 km (1430 miles)||Kuitun, China (on AH5)||Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan (on AH62)|
|AH68||278 km (174 miles)||Jinghe, China (on AH5)||Ucharal, Kazakhstan (on AH60)|
|AH70||4,832 km (3020 miles)||border between Ukraine and Russia||Bandar Abbas, Iran|
|AH71||426 km (266 miles)||Dilaram, Afghanistan (on AH1)||Dashtak, Iran (on AH75)|
|AH72||1,147 km (717 miles)||Tehran, Iran (on AH1/AH2/AH8)||Bushehr, Iran|
|AH75||1,871 km (1169 miles)||Tejen, Turkmenistan (on AH5)||Chabahar, Iran|
|AH76||986 km (616 miles)||Puli Khumri, Afghanistan (on AH7)||Herat, Afghanistan (on AH1/AH77)|
|AH77||1,298 km (811 miles)||Jabal Saraj District, Afghanistan (on AH7)||Mary, Turkmenistan (on AH5)|
|AH78||1,076 km (672.5 miles)||Ashgabat, Turkmenistan (on AH5)||Kerman, Iran (on AH2)|
|AH81||1,143 km (714 miles)||Larsi, Georgia||Aktau, Kazakhstan (on AH70)|
|AH82||1,261 km (788 miles)||border between Russia and Georgia||Ivughli, Iran (on AH1)|
|AH83||172 km (107.5 miles)||Qazakh, Azerbaijan (on AH5)||Yerevan, Armenia (on AH81/AH82)|
|AH84||1,188 km (742.5 miles)||Doğubeyazıt, Turkey (on AH1)||İçel, Turkey|
|AH85||338 km (211 miles)||Refahiye, Turkey (on AH1)||Merzifon, Turkey (on AH5)|
|AH86||247 km (154 miles)||Askale, Turkey (on AH1)||Trabzon, Turkey (on AH5)|
|AH87||606 km (378.75 miles)||Ankara, Turkey (on AH1)||İzmir, Turkey|
|AH88||1,700 km (1050 miles)||Chabahar, Iran (on AH75)||Bandar Imam Khomeini, Iran (on AH8)|
These routes were set up by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations as part of an extension to the Asian Highway Network, known as the ASEAN Highway Network.
|AH111||Loilem, Myanmar||Thibaw, Myanmar|||
|AH112||Thaton, Myanmar||Kawthaung, Myanmar|||
|AH121||Mukdahan, Thailand||Sa Kaeo, Thailand|
|AH123||Dawei, Myanmar||Pak Tho on AH2 in Thailand|||
|AH131||Vũng Áng, Vietnam||Thakhek, Laos|
|AH132||Quảng Ngãi, Vietnam||Thang Beng, Laos|
|AH140||Butterworth, Malaysia||Pasir Puteh, Malaysia|
|AH141||Port Klang Malaysia||Kuantan, Malaysia|
|AH142||Yong Peng, Malaysia||Gambang, Malaysia|
|AH143||Sengkang, Singapore||Senai, Malaysia|
|AH150||Telok Merano, Sarawak||Entikong, West Kalimantan||Also known as the Pan-Borneo Highway|
|AH151||Tebing Tinggi, North Sumatra||Bandar Lampung, Lampung||Also known as the Central Trans-Sumatran Highway. The highway is also co-signed as Sumatra by the Ministry of Transportation (Indonesia) since 2019.|
|AH152||Jakarta||Surakarta, Central Java||The highway is also co-signed by some Indonesian National Route Java by the Ministry of Transportation (Indonesia) since 2019.|
The planned network runs a total of 140,479 kilometres (87,290 mi).
|Country or region||Distance in km (mi)|
|Afghanistan||4,247 km (2,639 mi)|
|Armenia||958 km (595 mi)|
|Azerbaijan||1,442 km (896 mi)|
|Bangladesh||1,804 km (1,121 mi)|
|Bhutan||1 km (0.62 mi)|
|Cambodia||1,339 km (832 mi)|
|China||25,579 km (15,894 mi)|
|Georgia||1,154 km (717 mi)|
|Hong Kong||91 km (57 mi)|
|India||27,987 km (17,390 mi)|
|Indonesia||3,989 km (2,479 mi)|
|Iran||11,152 km (6,930 mi)|
|Japan||1,200 km (750 mi)|
|Kazakhstan||13,189 km (8,195 mi)|
|North Korea||1,320 km (820 mi)|
|South Korea||907 km (564 mi)|
|Kyrgyzstan||1,695 km (1,053 mi)|
|Laos||2,297 km (1,427 mi)|
|Malaysia||4,006 km (2,489 mi)|
|Mongolia||4,286 km (2,663 mi)|
|Myanmar||3,003 km (1,866 mi)|
|Nepal||1,321 km (821 mi)|
|Pakistan||5,377 km (3,341 mi)|
|Philippines||3,517 km (2,185 mi)|
|Russia||16,869 km (10,482 mi)|
|Singapore||38 km (24 mi)|
|Sri Lanka||650 km (400 mi)|
|Tajikistan||1,925 km (1,196 mi)|
|Thailand||5,112 km (3,176 mi)|
|Turkey||5,254 km (3,265 mi)|
|Turkmenistan||2,204 km (1,370 mi)|
|Uzbekistan||2,966 km (1,843 mi)|
|Vietnam||2,678 km (1,664 mi)|
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