Islamabad, March 1: The Istanbul-Islamabad freight train is likely to resume operations this week after a gap of nine years, connecting three countries — Turkey, Iran and Pakistan, according to a media report. The train will start from Istanbul on March 4 and arrive in Islamabad after 12 days.
"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,” a senior official of the Pakistan Railways told the Dawn newspaper on Sunday. Iran Carries Out 'Surgical Strike' Inside Pakistan to Free Revolutionary Guards Kidnapped by Jaish-ul-Adl.
The official said in Pakistan, ministries of foreign affairs and railways were coordinating with the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) Secretariat which was in contact with the respective departments of Turkey and Iran.
Since the train will complete the one-side trip in 12 days, it is expected to reach the Islamabad dry port on March 16, the report said. “Pakistan Railways also plans to resume this train operation from 19th, as it is currently booking cargo for Iran and Turkey,” the official added.
Minister for Railways Azam Khan Swati said 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 reached Islamabad dryport 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 Thursdays falling in the first week of every month. The permissible load will be 750 gross tonnes. The train length would be 420 metres,” according to a statement.
As per present arrangement, to start the train and the schedule agreed jointly by Turkey, Iran and Pakistan, 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.