EghtesadOnline: Passenger train services resumed between Iran and Turkey's capital cities, Tehran and Ankara, respectively, at 9:50 p.m. local time on Wednesday after Saeed Rasouli, the head of Islamic Republic of Iran Railways, flagged off the first trip.
The five-car train, carrying 200 passengers will take about 60 hours to arrive in Ankara from Tehran on Saturday, Mehr News Agency reported.
The services have been scheduled to run on a weekly basis.
The train will have a layover in Iran’s northwestern city of Tabriz before crossing Kapikoy/Razi border and reaching Turkey’s Van Province. The passengers will then take ferries on Lake Van to Tatvan Pier Train Station in eastern Turkey. From there, Turkish trains will carry passengers to Ankara, Financial Tribune reported.
“The journey from Ankara to Tehran is scheduled to depart on Wednesdays on 2 p.m.,” Mohammad Rajabi, the head of Raja Rail Transportation Company, told IRIB News.
Noting that tickets may be purchased by dialing 0215149, or through official travel agencies, Rajabi added the €43 ticket covers the whole journey, including the ferry charge.
Tehran-Van train services were initially launched on June 24.
Train services between the two neighboring countries were suspended in 2015 due to security concerns.
4.7% Rise in Rail Ridership
The Islamic Republic of Iran Railways carried 10.2 million passengers in the four-month period since the beginning of the current Iranian year on March 21 to register a 4.7% growth compared with the same period of last year, IRIR chief, Saeed Rasouli, said at a ceremony held on the occasion of the resumption of Tehran-Ankara train services.
“A total of 172 domestically-made freight and passenger wagons were added to the Iranian railroads during the four months under review, indicating a 64% rise year-on-year,” he added.
The official had previously noted that more than 1,000 locomotives and 40,000 tons of rails will be purchased from local manufacturers by March 19, 2020.
Turkey: Most Popular Travel Destination for Iranians
According to the World Travel & Tourism Council, Turkey was the most popular overseas destination for Iranian travelers in 2018, accounting for 41% of all visits abroad.
It was followed by Iraq (18%), the UAE (11%) and Syria and Armenia (4% each). The remaining 22% went to other parts of the world.
A report published by the Hotel Association of Turkey shows 2.5 million Iranian tourists visited Turkey in 2017, making the country the top destination for Iranian holidaymakers.
Iraq, the UAE and Armenia followed Turkey as the most popular destination for Iranians.
In 2016, a total of 1.7 million Iranian tourists spent their holidays in Turkey. The report noted that Iranians on average spend six nights in Turkey and spend $1,000 per person versus $630 spent by other foreign tourists per capita.
Turkey’s largest city Istanbul, the eastern province of Van and the southern province of Antalya are the most popular destinations for Iranian vacationers.
Thousands of Iranians flocked to Turkey during Iran’s two-week-long New Year holidays, known as Norouz, in the current fiscal year (started March 21), creating a great stir in Turkey's tourism sector.
More than 18,000 Iranian tourists entered Turkey from the eastern province of Van's Kapikoy border gate alone during the first week of Norouz, while other Turkish provinces such as Erzurum, Rize and Antalya also come to the fore among the cities welcoming Iranian tourists in this period.
Arriving in a wide range of cities from Van and Adana to Erzurum and Rize, Iranians have pleased both tradesmen and hoteliers, especially in this period, considered a "low season". Hotel occupancy in some regions exceeded 80%.
Turkey was the third biggest source of tourism to Iran last year after Iraq and Azerbaijan, accounting for 8% of all foreign tourists who visited Iran in 2018.
The drop in the value of Iran's national currency has made many Iranian families rethink their plans for foreign trips.
The latest data released by Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism indicate the number of Iranian tourists visiting Turkey, a popular tourist destinations, considerably decreased in 2018.
More than 1,894,100 Iranian travelers visited Turkey during the first 11 months of 2018, which marks an 18.17% decline compared with the corresponding period of the year before when the number of Iranian visitors was 2,314,656.
Among all tourists who visited Turkey from January to November 2018, only 5.05% were Iranian.
The drop was more significant in November as the number of Iranian travelers to Turkey decreased by 46.39% from 196,000 in last November to 105,000 this year.
In November 2018, only 5.35% of all travelers who came to visit Turkey were Iranian.