On March 4, the Istanbul-Islamabad freight train is likely to resume operations, connecting goods train business of three countries —Turkey, Iran and Pakistan. The operations are resuming after the gap of nine years.
A senior official of the Pakistan Railways gave an interview on this to a private newspaper.
“We have been informed by the quarters concerned that the container train would start its journey from Istanbul (Turkey) for Islamabad (Pakistan) via Zahidan on March 4. Though the schedule will be reconfirmed in a day or two, so far March 4 is the final date of departure of the train from Istanbul.”He said.
“In Pakistan, ministries of foreign affairs and railways are coordinating with the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) Secretariat that is also in contact with the respective departments/ministries of Turkey and Iran,” he added.
Considering the duration of 12 days to complete the one-side trip, it is expected to reach the Islamabad dry port on March 16.
“Pakistan Railways also plans to resume this train operation from 19th, as it is currently booking cargo for Iran and Turkey.”The official added.
Azam Khan Swati, Minister for Railways also said that he would receive the train on March 16.
According to Pakistan Railways record, the first train from Islamabad to Istanbul was inaugurated on August 14, 2009. Similarly, the first train from Istanbul to Islamabad dry port reached on August 13, 2010.
So far eight trains have been dispatched from Pakistan to Turkey, with the last leaving the Lahore dryport on November 5, 2011. Since the launch of the service in 2009, Turkey has sent six trains to Pakistan, with the last one reaching here on December 9, 2011.
“The train named ‘ECO Train’ will be operated regularly on the Thursdays falling in the first week of every month. The permissible load will be 750 gross tonnes. The train length would be 420 metres.”A related document says.
The running time between Drence-Kapikoy (Istanbul) and Zahidan-Tabraiz (Iran) will be 90 hours each. From Zahidan to Islamabad, the train would take 135.5 hours.
“March 4 is a tentative schedule for the departure of train from Istanbul. But it has been reported to us that the cargo comprising 24 containers have so far been booked from Turkey to Iran and Pakistan.”Chief Marketing Manager of Pakistan Railways Kashif Yousfani said.