After a pause of around a decade, the first freight train between Istanbul and Islamabad via Tehran reached Ankara via Lahore, Taftan and Zahedan on Monday, completing its 17-day journey in 13 days. A second train is already on its way to Turkey.
“The first train that departed on Dec 21 from Islamabad carrying goods (mainly pink salt) reached Ankara (Turkey) on Monday evening. Before reaching its destination, the goods loaded onto the train were shifted to other bogies (trans-shipment) compatible with the Iranian and Turkish rail/gauge system,” Pakistan Railways Director (Operations) Imtiaz Ahmad told Dawn. “The train consisted of eight wagons carrying pink salt weighing 150 tonnes.”
He said the second train, which had departed from Azakhel dry port on Dec 28, carried 525 tonnes of soapstone. It has entered Iran and will reach Zahedan very soon where the trans-shipment-related work will be completed, he added.
To a question, Mr Ahmad, who is also the focal person for the Istanbul-Tehran-Islamabad (ITI) train, said the Pakistan Railways earned Rs800,000 and Rs2.2 million from the first and second trains, respectively.