Freight train linking Pakistan, Iran and Turkey begins operations after 10-year hiatus
A freight train service linking Pakistan, Iran and Turkey, which was suspended for more than 10 years, has been re-launched to improve regional connectivity and unlock trade potential between the three countries, media reports said on Wednesday.
A freight train service linking Pakistan, Iran and Turkey, which was suspended for more than 10 years, has been re-launched to improve regional connectivity and unlock trade potential between the three countries, media reports said on Wednesday. The three countries also plan to launch a passenger train service on the same route in the future. Minister for Railways Azam Khan Swati, along with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, inaugurated the Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul (ITI) freight train at Margalla railway station here on Tuesday. Ambassadors of Turkey, Iran, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan were also present on the occasion. The ITI freight train, which will operate every Tuesday, began its journey from Margalla railway station in Islamabad towards its first destination in Zahedan, Iran, from where it will proceed towards Istanbul, a senior railway official said. The first train from Islamabad to Istanbul was inaugurated on August 14, 2009. Correspondingly, the first consignment from Istanbul reached Islamabad on August 13, 2010, according to Pakistan Railways. So far, eight trains were sent from Pakistan to Turkey, with the last leaving Lahore on November 5, 2011. Since the launch of this service in 2009, Turkey has sent six trains to Pakistan, the last of which was unloaded here on December 9, 2011. The freight train, with the capacity to carry upto 80,000 tonnes of goods, has departed to Europe’s largest city with a dozen containers, and will complete the journey in about two weeks, making it a faster and more economically viable option than a sea route, the Express Tribune report said. It will cover 1,990 kilometres in Pakistan, before crossing through the Taftan border for a 2,603-kilometre-stretch in Iran. The train will then traverse around 1,850 kilometres through Turkey, before reaching its final stop in Istanbul, the report said. The service will play a vital role in improving the economies and lives of citizens of ECO member states by maximising economic efficiency and reducing the cost of doing business, The Dawn newspaper said. At Tuesday’s ceremony in Islamabad, Qureshi hailed the “historic” development as a step that would open new avenues for trade and business in the region and beyond. The Railways Minister echoed Qureshi’s sentiments, before adding: “The passenger train service will also start soon. We have opened our trade routes and it is a great opportunity for importers and exporters.” Dawood said regional connectivity was one of very important pillars of Pakistan’s strategic trade policy framework and it was heartening to witness the resumption of operations of ITI freight train.
The Turkish Ambassador Mustafa Yurdakul expressed the hope that the train service would not stop at Istanbul, but would go till Europe, benefitting all the regional countries to help bounce back with these linkages during the post COVID-19 era.
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