Islamabad, 22 December 2021 (TDI): Islamabad Tehran Istanbul (ITI) Freight Train Service got inaugurated earlier today. The ITI freight service connects Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) member states. Namely Iran, Pakistan, and Turkey.
The Inauguration Event
Federal Minister for Railways Azam Swati, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, and Advisor to Prime Minister for Investment and Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood were present at the event. The Ambassadors of Turkey, Iran, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan also attended the event. The inauguration took place at the Margalla Station in Islamabad.
In accordance with PM @ImranKhanPTI vision of developing integrated transport network to facilitate trade, FM Railways @AzamKhanSwatiPk along with foreign minister @SMQureshiPTI and Advisor commerce @razak_dawood inaugurated Islamabad Tehran Istanbul Freight Train Service.(1/7) pic.twitter.com/4TtUQtDmqq
— Ministry of Railways, Govt of Pakistan (@RailwaysGovPk) December 21, 2021
The initiative comes forth in line with Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision to develop an integrated transport network. This is to facilitate trade and economic connectivity.
The Vitality of the Initiative
Firstly, the services will act pivotally, improving the economies and lives of citizens of the three states. Turkey, Pakistan, and Iran will benefit from the initiative. As it will increase economic efficiency and reduce the cost of doing business.
In the first phase of the functioning of the freight services, two freight forwarders will carry out activities. Maxell Logistics and Haroon Brothers would carry the trade. Initially, wagoned trains will take upon the trading activities. In the second phase, later on, Containerized trains will be utilized.
ITI Freight Train will resume after a break of nine years. The Train will complete a one-side trip in 12-days. It can be viewed as a measure that will go a long way in facilitating the movement of goods between the three partnering countries.
The Federal Minister for Railways spoke at the event. He reflected on the necessity of the functioning of the ITI freight train. Further, he said that this service will open the doors for business and connectivity in the region. Moreover, the Minister also signaled that passenger services will also begin soon.
Secondly, Advisor Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood said that he is heartened upon witnessing the reopening of the ITI freight train service. Expressing his pleasure at the inauguration of the ITI service he said that ‘Regional Connectivity is one of the very important pillars of our Strategic Trade Policy Framework’.
Furthermore, he called upon the Pakistani exporters to take benefit of this alternative route and mode of transport. He also announced that the Ministry of Commerce can be approached for any facilitation in this regard.
Regional Connectivity🌍 is one of very important pillars of 🇵🇰 our Strategic Trade Policy Framework(STPF). It was heartening to witness the resumption of operations of the 🇹🇷Istanbul-🇮🇷Tehran-🇵🇰Islamabad (ITI) Freight Train after nine years. pic.twitter.com/5HkYJaP2az
— Abdul Razak Dawood (@razak_dawood) December 21, 2021
Lastly, Shah Mahmood Qureshi also expressed his joy at the re-inauguration of the freight services between the three cities. He added, that ‘the service will play an important role in regional connectivity and will promote economic activity in the region’.
The Economic Cooperation Organization
The Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) is an intergovernmental regional organization. It encompasses countries from Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia, Middle East and South Asia, as of today.
However, it was initially founded as Regional Cooperation for Development in 1964. Pakistan, Turkey, and Iran were its founding members. The three countries thus have a long history of cooperating on economic and development grounds. The resumption of the long-stalled freight services is a continued effort to further strengthen geo-economic ties.