ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan government on Tuesday inaugurated the Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul freight train service to enhance regional trade between the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) member states.
For developing integrated transport network to facilitate trade, Federal Minister for Railways Azam Khan Swati along with Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce Razak Dawood inaugurated the ITI freight train service from Margalla Railway Station, as a consignment of freight train via Tehran left for Istanbul.
Qureshi appreciated the resumption of the ITI freight train service and said that the service will play an important role in regional connectivity and would promote economic activity in the region.
Pakistan’s share in the total trade volume among the region is just 7 percent, which has to be increased, he said, adding that the PTI government moved the country from geo-political to geoeconomics and that’s why it wants to promote economic diplomacy.
Trade through train service is a cheaper means of transportation and that it should be promoted.
Railways Minister Azam Khan Swati highlighted the importance of the ITI freight train and said that this service will open the doors for business and connectivity in the region.
The passenger service will also start soon, he said, adding that currently two freight forwarders, Maxtel Logistics and Haroon Brothers would carry the trade.
In the first phase, wagoned trains would carry the consignments; followed by containerized trains in the second phase. The ITI freight train service will play a vital role in improving the economies and lives of the citizens of the ECO member states by maximizing economic efficiency and reducing the cost of doing business.
Dawood said that it was heartening to witness the resumption of operations of the Istanbul-Tehran-Islamabad (ITI) freight train after nine years.
The train will complete the one-sided trip in 12 days and will go a long way in facilitating the movement of goods between Pakistan, Iran, and Turkey.
“I call our exporters to take advantage of this alternative route and mode of transport and contact the Ministry of Commerce for any facilitation, in this regard.
This is a day, which will be long remembered in the region. The Ministry of Commerce has been working continuously and asking for efforts to increase trade.
“We’ve already initiated regional trade through trucks under TIR. Trucking is ongoing but the real potential is through Railways, which is more economical,” the adviser added.
Ambassadors of Turkey, Iran, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan also graced the event with their presence.