Resuming operations after 10 years, the first Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul (ITI) train carrying goods from Pakistan to Turkey via Iran arrived in the capital Ankara on Wednesday.
The ITI freight train started its journey from Islamabad on December 21, 2021 and arrived in Ankara in about 13 days. Turkish Transport and Infrastructure Minister Adil Karaismailoğlu, Pakistani MP Makhdoom Zain Hussain Qureshi and Iranian Ambassador to Turkey Mohammad Farazmand attended a ceremony to mark the arrival of the train.
Departing from Margalla station in Islamabad, the train began its 5,981 kilometer (3,666 mile) journey, arriving in 12 days and 21 hours. The freight train aims to boost trade between Pakistan, Iran and Turkey. The train itself is made up of eight loaded cars, 20 feet (6 meters) long, each with a capacity of 22 tons.
Karaismailoğlu said in his speech that the new railway will provide another option for industrialists and businessmen on the Pakistan-Iran-Turkey route.
“It will save time and money from sea shipping between Pakistan and Turkey which takes 35 days and lead to the development of trade between the two countries,” he said.
“Thus, with the Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul train, a new rail corridor will be provided for our exporters from South Asia – which has the highest population density in the world – reaching Pakistan, neighboring India, China , Afghanistan and Iran. In this way, our country will come one step closer to its goals of becoming a bridge and a logistics base between Asia and Europe,” Karaismailoğlu added.
Speaking at the ceremony, Qureshi stressed that the ITI train will play an important role in improving regional connectivity and promoting economic and trade activities in the ECO (Economic Cooperation Organization) region. Iran, Pakistan and Turkey established the regional development cooperation organization in 1964, renamed ECO in 1985.
Qureshi added that the train would provide Pakistan with an opportunity to further increase its exports and enhance its connectivity with international markets, including in Europe.
“The current government in Pakistan believes in regional connectivity and we believe that to play a role at the national level, we must be economically reliable. To do this, we must not only have peace in our region, but also increase trade. in our neighborhood and this ITI project will become a friendship project.
“We have access to European markets and Turkey has access to Central Asian states, so it’s a mutually beneficial deal and I hope it’s sustainable and we can get more out of it,” Qureshi told Reuters. ‘Anadolu Agency (AA) in an interview. .
Ambassador Farazmand explained in his speech that the ITI railway project was first launched in 2009 under the ECO but remained suspended due to technical issues, restarting a decade later.
He pointed out that the three countries also plan to launch a passenger train on the same route in the near future.
The first train from Islamabad to Istanbul was inaugurated on August 14, 2009. Since then, eight trains have been dispatched from Pakistan to Turkey. The country also sent six trains to Pakistan, but train service was disrupted due to flooding in the South Asian country in 2009.