First Islamabad-Istanbul Train Reaches Turkey

After a decade-long hiatus, the first freight train between Istanbul and Islamabad via Tehran arrived in Ankara on Monday via Lahore, Taftan, and Zahedan, completing its 17-day journey in 13 days. A second train has already left for Turkey.

“The first train, which left Islamabad on December 21 carrying goods (primarily pink salt), arrived in Ankara (Turkey) on Monday evening.” The goods loaded onto the train were shifted to other bogies (trans-shipment) compatible with the Iranian and Turkish rail/gauge systems before reaching their destination,” Pakistan Railways Director (Operations) Imtiaz Ahmad told Dawn. “The train was made up of eight wagons carrying 150 tonnes of pink salt.”

He stated that the second train, which left Azakhel dry port on December 28, carried 525 passengers.

In response to a question, Mr. Ahmad, who is also the contact person for the Istanbul-Tehran-Islamabad (ITI) train, stated that the first and second trains earned Pakistan Railways Rs800,000 and Rs2.2 million, respectively.

In response to another question, he stated that Iran would only be used as a transit country for the ITI train service and that all goods loaded from Pakistan would be transported only to Turkey.

Pink salt was loaded onto trucks from Sargodha and transported to Islamabad’s ITI train. The soapstone was brought from Jalalabad (Afghanistan), and the freight forwarders booked it on the ITI train based on the parties’ requests, he added.

The resumption of the ITI train service from Turkey was scheduled for March 4, 2020, with its arrival in Pakistan on March 16 and return to Turkey three days later.

He stated that reconnecting Pakistan Railways to the international rail network would significantly help the country’s economy.

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