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C h r o n o l o g y

1829: First Steamer Bombay - Suez
1835: Overland route through Egypt organized by Thomas F. Waghorn, then via Mahmoudieh Canal, Nile and by horse-drawn "bus" or camels.
1837: Overland route through France, from 1847 partially by rail.
1840: Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company.
1840: L&SWR London - Southampton, then Indian Mail by P&O steamers via Southampton, 1843 no longer Falmouth.
1846/47: Trials Triest - Oostende, partially by rail.
1855: Railway to Marseille completed.
1856: Railway Alexandria - Cairo completed, initially crossing the Nile near Kafr el Zaiat by train ferry.
1857: Malle des Indes mail train Calais - Marseille
1858: Railway Cairo - Suez, completed.
1868: Railway system Fell Saint-Michel - Mont Cenis - Susa, from 1869 specials for Indian Mail, 1871 closed.
1869: Inauguration of the Suez Canal, but until 1888 also rail was used.
1870: Mail via Oostende - Brenner - Brindisi, Wagons-Lits even were intended by Nagelmackers.
1870: Railway Bombay - Calcutta completed. Before, already sections were used.
1872: Malle des Indes Calais - Frejus Tunnel - Brindisi replaced the Brenner route.
1876: Pullman sleeper Bologna - Brindisi (until 1886)
1877: Rail Rangoon - Prome (Burma)
1878: Delhi - Lahore - Karachi and Peshawar completed
1879: Malle des Indes with a CIWL sleeping car Calais - Bologna (1879 - 86).
1885: Saigon - Mytho, the first railway in Indochina.
1886: Malle with a CIWL sleeper Calais - Brindisi, ex-Pullman
1886: Rail from the Indus valley westward to Quetta via Rindli, in 1887 via Chappar Rift, 1895 via Mushkaf Bolan Route.
1889: Club Train London - Dover, Calais - Paris (until 1893).
1889: Link Bombay - Itarsi - Delhi, then used by the Bombay - Punjab mail (GIPR).
1890: Peninsular-Express, a CIWL de-Luxe Calais-Brindisi, southbound combined with Club Train, northbound with Malle des Indes.
1894: Railway Rangoon - Mandalay completed.
1897: Bambay-Express (CIWL de-Luxe) Calais - Marseille.
c. 1899: European Mail de-Luxe Bombay - Calcutta, 1908 Overland Express or Imperial Mail (by GIPR/EIR)
1902: Hanoi-Dong Dang completed.
1904 : Malle des Indes to Marseille re-introduced.
1906 : Haiphong - Hanoi - Laokay completed, 1910 extended to Yunnanfou (Kunming), 1940 destroyed.
1909: Johore Bahru - Prai completed.
1911: Some mail for a short time sent via Brussels - Strasbourg - Tauern - Triest(?)
1911 or earlier: Special Limited Express Bombay - Madras (by GIPR/MSMR)
1912: P & O Special Bombay - Delhi via Baroda (via BBCIR).
1914: Indo - Ceylon Boat Mail Madras-Dhanushkodi (by SIR, meter gauge), at Talaimannar connecting with the Ceylon Government Railway.
1914: Peninsular-Express and Brindisi route abandoned.
1915: Re-start of the temporarily interrupted Bombay-Express.
1922: Bombay-Express with CIWL's first all-steel sleepers.
1924 or 22: Train de-Luxe Prai-Bangkok with connection from Singapore, later the International Express.
1925: Khyber Pass line to Landi Kotal completed.
1926: (new) Imperial Indian Mail de-Luxe Bombay - Calcutta (GIRP/EIR).
1927: "The Race to Delhi", by the Punjab Limited Express (BBCIR) and the short-lived Punjab Limited (GIPR), both Bombay - Delhi - Peshawar de-Luxe
1932: Meter gauge Phnon Penh - Battambang, later to Thailand.
1936: "Transindochinois" Saigon - Hanoi completed, 1942 interrupted for decades.
1939: End of Malle des Indes and Overland-Express, the former Bombay-Express
1941: International Express Prai - Bangkok interrupted by WWII
1943: "River Kwai" line Thailand - Burma, never really completed.
1947: India liberated, divided up into Pakistan, India and East Pakistan, borders closed after atrocities.
1947: Emergency in Malaya, "pilot trains" secured the passenger trains.
1949: Assam Rail Link (meter gauge), circumventing East Pakistan
1954: Trains Lahore - Amritsar; from 1955 Lahore - Calcutta, 1965 -76 interrupted.
1954: International Express Prai - Bangkok re-introduced, temporarily a Malayan sleeper Kuala Lumpur - Bangkok, now only Butterworth - Bangkok.
1965: Steamer service Dhanushkodi - Talaimannar (Sri Lanka) replaced by Rameswaram - Talaimannar, later stopped.
1967: Punjab Mail re-introduced Bombay-Firozepur.
1968: Rajdhani Express Delhi - Calcutta
1969: Phnom Penh - Sihanoukville (Kompong Sam) completed.
1971: Bahgladesh separated after war, no trains to India
1972: Rajdhani Express Bombay - Baroda - Delhi.
Other Rajdhani Expresses followed.
1978: Gitanjali Express, a fast train Bombay - Nagpur - Calcutta.
1993: Eastern & Oriental Express, a tourist de-Luxe special Singapore - Bangkok - Chiang Mai and Kanchanaburi.
2002: Cross-border traffic Lahore (Pakistan) - India interrupted by war, in 2004 locals re-introduced. Connecting expresses Karachi - Lahore.
2004: Colombo - Galle - Matara interrupted by Tsunami catastrophe. Some north-eastern services had been interrupted long before.

Europe, Egypt and initially Thailand standard gauge; India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka 5ft 6in, India and Bangladesh also meter gauge, Burma and South East Asia meter gauge.

Trans-Asian railway
In 1967 the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far Est (ECAFE, then ESCAP) of the UN supported a proposal for a trans-Asian railway linking Turkey with India and Thailand. The estimated cost for building the missing links was not even a billion dollar. DB director Friedrich Loehr however found, that nearly 20 billion were necessary in order to make it competitive for freight traffic. Re-opening of the Suez Canal in 1975 made the proposal unrealistic.