Goods from Islamabad will reach Istanbul via Iran in 15 days
Officials of both Pakistan and Turkey have discussed this issue recently at recent meetings in Turkey
ISLAMABAD: A new train service between Asia and Europe is on the cards. The service will enable Pakistani exports to reach Turkey via Iran in 15 days.
Pakistani exports to Turkey include: rice, sesame seeds, leather, textiles, fabrics, sports’ goods and medical equipment. Turkey’s exports to Pakistan are wheat, chickpeas, lentils, diesel, chemicals, transport vehicles, machinery and energy products.
Since horticultural products are perishable, until recently Pakistani exporters had no option but to use the costly air cargo for transporting their goods to Europe and other destinations. The cargo train will travel 6,500 km from Islamabad to Istanbul and help increase trade and investments, especially in transport, telecommunications, manufacturing, tourism and other industries, between Pakistan and Turkey.
Some countries are already using this mode of transportation successfully for the export of their goods to distant destinations. For instance, China and Germany are operating the world’s longest cargo train transport system, stretching over 11,000 kms from China to Europe.
“Initially this rail link will connect Pakistan-Iran-Turkey. However, it will be further extended to China under the China-Pak Economic Corridor (CPEC),” a source told Customs Today.
“The officials concerned of both Pakistan and Turkey have held detailed discussion on this issue at the recent meetings of joint ministerial and Joint Economic Commission in Turkey,” he said, adding that there was a consensus on both sides that with functional rail link, exports of all three countries to Europe would increase manifold. From Istanbul, the freight train would take only five days to reach Munich, the third largest city in Germany, after Berlin and Hamburg, with a population of around 1.47 million.
The source said that rail infrastructure was already available and no new rail track was required to be laid to meet this purpose, however, some improvements of basic nature in the rail tracks were needed to implement the project.
“Pakistani exports to Europe will reach in the shortest possible time at the cheapest rates via this train service which will make Pakistan’s dream of enhanced exports to Europe,” the source said. He added that infrastructure enhancements were being discussed with upgrading of the Pakistan Railways line between Iran and Quetta and electrification of Iran’s Tehran-Tabriz route has been proposed.
The resumption of train service between Pakistan and Turkey was discussed in a meeting between Federal Commerce Minister Khuram Dastgir and Turkish Ambassador to Pakistan Sadik Babür Girgin in the first week of October.
On November 6, 2013, Railways Minister Saad Rafique also announced to run carriage train operations between Islamabad and Istanbul, saying that the rail link between Islamabad and Istanbul would strengthen the historic bonds of brotherhood and cooperation between the two countries.
Moreover, former president Asif Zardari and Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul had also agreed to undertake a $20 billion project to upgrade a railway link from Islamabad to Istanbul.
Turkish private companies have also invested significantly in the industrial and construction projects, including development of highways, pipelines and canals. In the aftermath of the 2005 earthquake, Turkey announced a package of $150 million for the quake-hit people of Pakistan.
Former Railways Minister Ghulam Ahmed Bilour had announced to link Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul railway to China. He had also reiterated that Islamabad has assigned a consortium to examine the railway project between Pakistan and China.