Islamabad: After a pause of around a decade, the first freight train between Istanbul and Islamabad via Tehran reached Ankara on Monday.
The first train through Lahore, Taftan, and Zahedan completed its 17-day journey in 13 days and the second train is already on its way to Turkey, according to Dawn.
Pakistan Railways Director (Operations) Imtiaz Ahmad said that the train consisted of eight wagons carrying pink salt weighing 150 tonnes
“Second train, which had departed from Azakhel dry port on December 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 said.
“Iran would only be used as a transit country for the Istanbul-Tehran-Islamabad (ITI) train service, and all the goods loaded from Pakistan would only be transported to Turkey,” he added.
Ahmad further revealed that a third train would also depart soon for Turkey, as the demand and load is currently under assessment by freight forwarders.
“We are also expecting transportation of various goods to Pakistan from Turkey and the freight forwarders there are working on it,” he said.
After a gap of around 10 years, the resumption of the ITI train service from Turkey was scheduled for March 4, 2020, with its arrival in Pakistan on March 16 and return to Turkey after three days.
However, later, mishandling, negligence, and other administrative issues allegedly on the part of the authorities concerned delayed the service, forcing Turkey and Iran to cancel orders for hundreds of tonnes of goods from Pakistan, according to Dawn.
The Pakistani authorities, keeping in view these observations, suspended the services of the then Pakistan Railways Freight and Transportation Company director (commercial) on charges of inefficiency and misconduct to pacify the two countries.