ISLAMABAD: A transnational cargo train that left Turkey’s historic Istanbul city on March 4 will reach a dry port in Islamabad on March 16 after traveling 6,500km and will be received at the end of its 12-day journey by Federal Minister for Railways Azam Khan Swati.
The service of the cargo train that runs between three Muslim countries – Turkey, Iran and Pakistan – has been resumed after a suspension of ten years.
Sources in the Pakistan Railways said the country’s official rail service has completed its preparations to welcome this train, which has the capacity to transport 750 metric tons of cargo. They said the train will enter Pakistan from Iran’s Zahedan border and will reach Islamabad via Quetta-Sukkur route.
The train will start its journey back to Istanbul on March 19. The railways officials said the train will depart on the first Thursday of every month. The train which is 420metre long will reach Iran from Istanbul after a journey of 90 hours and travel inside Iran for 135 hours.
The cargo train will travel 1,900km in Pakistan; 2,600km in Iran and 1,950km in Turkey. It will not only be beneficial for the three nations but other regional countries including Afghanistan, Azerbaijan and Central Asian countries may also benefit from this train in the longer run.
The Pakistan Railways official said the route of the train is standard gauge in Turkey and Iran but after Zahedan, it turns into a single track. They said there is a need for upgrading the track in Pakistan, which dates back to the colonial era.
Experts believe that this cargo train may help in reducing the cargo expenditure of importers and exporters and in quick delivery of good to the European markets where Pakistani urea and rice are in demand. Pakistan on the other hand imports sanitary items, tiles and hardware from the EU.
Earlier, the cargo train was started between the two brotherly nations on August 14, 2009 and the last cargo train left from Islamabad on November 5, 2011 and reached Istanbul on December 9, 2011. In the past 10 years, this service remained largely suspended.