|Pakistan's First Independent Complete Daily E-Newspaper|
|ISSN 1729-7915||Editor: Mumtaz Hamid Raoemail@example.com
Friday, May 24, 2013
Zil-Hajj 09, 1432 AH
| ||Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul freight train service Begins
'Pakistan Times' Business & Commerce Desk
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani on Friday said Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul container train service would lead to enhanced regional cooperation among the ECO member states.
Speaking at the inauguration of ECO demonstration container train which will traverse Pakistan, Iran and Turkey, he said this will be a meaningful interaction for the socio-economic progress and prosperity of the people of the region.
He hoped that the demonstration run would establish not only international freight services on competitive basis but will alsosubsequently provide for passenger movement by trains. He said the train link will also boost the tourism industry of the ECO member countries.
The train on its maiden journey from Islamabad railway station is carrying 20 containers, 14 of which will be off-loaded in Tehran while six in Istanbul. The total journey of 6,500 kilometers will be completed in a fortnight with railway experts from the three countries on board to gauge the performance.
He said the success of the project would be a landmark achievement in improving our national economies. “The launching of the ECO Demonstration Container Train, is an epic event, clearing the way for Pakistan’s integration into the regional railways network,” the Prime Minister remarked.
He said it will open trade corridor between south and central Asia on the one hand and with Europe on the other. The trial run of the train would identify impediments and obstacles enroute over vast terrains of about 6500 km spread over three countries, he added. He said there are also some operational obstacles which will be resolved over time.
He said economic cooperation between Iran, Turkey and Pakistan dates back to the days of RCD and now the ECO is further strengthening relations amongst these three and other Central Asian republics and Afghanistan. He said the concept of the “Demonstration Train” was deliberated upon at the 18th Regional Planning Council of the ECO meeting held at Islamabad during March 2008.
The idea finally materialized with the completion of the construction of the missing link between Zahidan and Kirman by Iranian Railways and the support it received in the 7th ECO Ministerial Meeting at Antalya (Turkey), he added. “I congratulate the ECO member states and the Railway authorities of Pakistan, Iran and Turkey for making this idea a reality.”
He also lauded efforts of ECO Secretariat in making the dream come true are. “Their devotion, hard work, farsightedness and dedication toward achieving this goal would go a long way in providing better means of transportation amongst the brotherly countries of the region,” Prime Minister Gilani said. He appreciated the support and assistance provided by other International Organizations like OTIF in promoting the objectives of ECO transportation strategy.
He, however, said this is not an end but one small step to be transformed into a giant leap in the future. “A lot more is required to establish the train service on permanent footing.” He said Pakistan Railways has undertaken rehabilitation of the main railway line including Quetta-Taftan section for which feasibility study has been completed.
He said upgradation would require financial support to the extent of 500 million dollars which is necessary to achieve a speed of 140 kilometers per hour of the train and optimum operational efficiency. The Prime Minister pointed out that the railway system in Pakistan has a strong network but its infrastructure requires rehabilitation.
The government, he added, would do its best but international and national funding agencies will also have to come forward. He said the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Islamic Development Bank and the ECO Bank can contribute, besides the governments of Iran and Turkey. The railway management of Pakistan may formally approach international agencies, placing official requests for financing the project, he added.