Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul Train to Be Launched in 2021

The Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul freight train is expected to resume operations in early 2021 to boost Pakistan’s trade with Turkey and Iran.
The railroads of Pakistan, Turkey and Iran have mutually agreed to resume regular operations soon, said Turkey’s Transport Minister, Adil Karaismailoglu, after the 10th meeting of the Economic Cooperation Organization’s Transport and Communications Ministers in Istanbul, Pakistani media outlet Islamabad Scene reported.
The key requirements for the revival of ITI train, also called the ECO Container train have been fulfilled. The train is expected to resume operations in 2021.
The trial run of ITI train was launched in 2009 as a project under the 10-member Asian trade bloc ECO. The rail route, which is recognized by the UN as an international corridor linking the three countries, has so far only been used for conducting trial journeys.



Reduces Freight Time and Cost

The railroad line intends to greatly reduce the transit route of goods from Istanbul to Islamabad. 
During the trial, the freight train from Islamabad to Istanbul took nearly 13 days to make the 6,500-km journey. The journey was later further reduced to 11.5 days. In comparison, transporting goods from European countries to Pakistan via sea took almost 45 days. The train has a maximum capacity of twenty 40-feet containers.
The total length of the project is as follows:
- Iran: 2,600 km
- Turkey: 1,950 km
- Pakistan: 1,990 km



Highlights of Istanbul-Tehran-Islamabad Rail Corridor

- Facilitates cargo and container transport
- Transportation capacity: 20 containers of 40 feet
- Estimated travel time is 11 days as compared to 45 days by sea, and
- Over 30% reduction in rail fares as opposed to traditional routes.
The railroad from Istanbul, which passes through Tehran all the way to Islamabad, has been described as “tremendously beneficial” to all three nations. It aims to boost economic cooperation among the three countries and with the other ECO member countries afterward.
The three countries will benefit from the ITI project: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.



Possibility of Expansion to Europe

Although the project was launched to promote economic relations among the ECO founding member countries, it offers a short, safe and affordable route for the transportation of goods between Asia and Europe, while extending benefits to several regional countries. 
From Turkey, the corridor can link up with the European rail networks via Istanbul’s 76-km-long undersea Marmaray railroad tunnel.
Other countries earlier also expressed eagerness to join the project and suggested further expansion to European and Middle East markets.

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