Islamabad to Istanbul freight train service resumes

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In a further sign of ever closer relations between Pakistan, Iran and Turkey, Pakistan Railways has announced it will resume freight train travel from Islamabad to Istanbul with immediate effect.

The railways of Pakistan, Turkey and Iran mutually agreed last year to resume regular operations to boost economic cooperation among the three countries.

The railway service first started in 2009 but was cancelled in 2011 due to logistical challenges.

The train journey will take almost 12 days to complete the trip of nearly 6,500 kilometres. It will greatly reduce the transit route of the goods from Istanbul to Islamabad as transporting goods from European countries to Pakistan via the sea takes almost 45 days.

The train will run through Pakistan’s southwestern Baluchistan border province before entering or leaving Iran.

Abdul Razak Dawood, an adviser to the Pakistani Prime Minister for commerce and investment, said the “Istanbul-Tehran-Islamabad” train will have a capacity of transporting 750 metric tons of commercial goods.

“This is a testament of friendship between the three countries … and will go a long way in facilitating movement of goods between Pakistan, Iran & Turkey,” Dawood wrote on Twitter.

Commenting on the closer ties between the three countries Pakistani analyst Muhammad Omar Iftikhar said: “The Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul route has a clear chance of being incorporated into China’s Belt and Road Initiative to add value to China Pakistan Economic Corridor while providing economic, trade, and logistic support to Turkey, Iran, Pakistan while adding to their economic growth.”

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