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Pakistan-Turkey train arrives in Istanbul, first in a decade

The Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul Freight Train is seen during a welcoming ceremony on 5 January 2022 in Ankara, Turkey. [dia images via Getty Images]
The Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul Freight Train is seen during a welcoming ceremony on 5 January 2022 in Ankara, Turkey [Dia images via Getty Images]

The first train carrying goods from Pakistan to Turkey arrived in Istanbul yesterday, completing the first such journey in a decade.

The Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul (ITI) cargo train – made up of eight wagons with a capacity of 22 tonnes – started its journey from Islamabad on 21 December and travelled 5,981 kilometres. It is hoped the new link will boost trade between the three countries.

Turkey's Transport and Infrastructure Minister Adil Karaismailoglu, Member of Pakistan National Assembly Makhdoom Zain Hussain Qureshi, and Iranian Ambassador to Turkey Mohammad Farazmand attended the ceremony held in Istanbul to mark the locomotive's arrival.

"It will save time and cost compared to sea transportation between Pakistan and Turkey, which takes 35 days, and will lead to the development of trade between the two countries," Karaismailoglu said.

Speaking at the ceremony, Qureshi highlighted that the ITI train would play an important role in enhancing regional connectivity and promoting economic and commercial activities.

READ: Turkey, Pakistan top military officials discuss regional security

"The current government in Pakistan believes in regional connectivity and we feel that to play a role at the national stage we need to be economically reliable. In order to do that, we need to not only have peace in our region but also increase the trade within our neighbourhood and this ITI project will become a friendship project."

"We get access to the European markets and Turkey gets access to the central Asian states so it is a mutually beneficial arrangement and I hope it will be sustainable and we can grow from it further," Qureshi told Anadolu Agency in an interview.

Ambassador Farazmand in his speech said the ITI railway project was first launched in 2009 but remained suspended due to technical issues and was restarted ten years later.

He emphasised that the three countries also plan to launch a passenger train along the same route in the near future.

The first train from Islamabad to Istanbul was inaugurated on 14 August 2009. Since then, eight trains have been dispatched from Pakistan to Turkey. A further six locomotives left Turkey for Pakistan, but the train service was discontinued due to floods in Pakistan in 2009.

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