EghtesadOnline: Iran and Turkey have signed three documents for maximizing the capacity of freight and passenger rail transportation, Managing Director of the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways Saeed Rasouli said on Monday.
“Over the nine months to Dec. 20, more than 500,000 tons of cargos were transported between Iran and Turkey despite the coronavirus crisis; the figure would reach 600,000 by the end of the current Iranian year [March 20, 2021] which is an acceptable record,” he was quoted as saying by the news portal of the Ministry of Roads and Urban development.
Iran and Turkey exchanged $335.06 million worth of goods and commodities in November 2020, marking an increase in monthly trade for the second successive month.
According to the latest data released by Turkish Statistical Institute, the neighboring country's November trade with Iran was 5% higher than in November 2019.
This could be interpreted as a sign of recovery in trade between the two neighbors after it declined sharply during the pandemic.
Iran’s exports to Turkey accounted for $121.6 million of the sum, up 26.68% YOY, while Turkey’s exports to Iran stood at $211.464 million, down 4% year-on-year.
Monthly trade between Iran and Turkey fell below $300 million in September, mostly due to a fall in Iran's exports to the neighboring country.
The two countries' trade stood at $2.93 billion during the first 11 months of 2020 (January-November) to register a decrease of 50% compared with the corresponding period of 2019.
Iran exported more than $1 billion worth of goods to Turkey during the period to register a 71% year-on-year decline. Imports from Turkey stood at $1.92 billion, down 22.6% YOY.
Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul Train to Be Launched in 2021
The Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul freight train is expected to resume operations in early 2021 to boost Pakistan’s trade with Turkey and Iran.
The railroads of Pakistan, Turkey and Iran have mutually agreed to resume regular operations soon, said Turkey’s Transport Minister Adil Karaismailoglu, after the 10th edition of Economic Cooperation Organization’s Transport and Communications Ministers’ meeting in Istanbul, Pakistani media outlet Islamabad Scene reported.
The key requirements for the revival of ITI train, also called ECO Container train, have been fulfilled. The train is expected to resume operations in 2021.
The trial run of ITI train was launched in 2009 as a project under Economic Cooperation Organization, which is a 10-member Asian trade bloc. The rail route, which is recognized by the UN as an international corridor between the three countries, has so far only been used for test journeys.
The railroad intends to greatly reduce the transit route of goods from Istanbul to Islamabad. During the trial, the freight train from Islamabad to Istanbul took nearly 13 days to make the 6,500-km journey. The journey was later further reduced to 11.5 days.
In comparison, goods transportation from European countries to Pakistan via sea took almost 45 days. The train has a maximum capacity for twenty 40-feet containers.
The total length of the Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul project is 6,500 kilometers, which comprises:
- Iran: 2,600 km
- Turkey: 1,950 km
- Pakistan: 1,990 km
The railroad from Istanbul, through Tehran, all the way to Islamabad has been described as “tremendously beneficial” to all three nations. It aims to boost economic cooperation among Pakistan, Iran and Turkey first and with the other ECO member countries afterward.
Besides Pakistan, Turkey and Iran, these countries will benefit from the ITI project: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
Although the project was launched to promote economic relations among the ECO founding member countries, it offers a short, safe and affordable route for the transportation of goods between Asia and Europe, extending benefits to several regional countries.
From Turkey, the corridor can link up with the European rail networks via Istanbul’s 76-km-long undersea Marmaray railroad tunnel.
Other countries earlier also expressed eagerness to join the project and suggested further expansion to the European and Middle East markets.
Highlights of Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul Rail Corridor include service to facilitate cargo and container transport, transport capacity: 20 containers of 40 feet, estimated travel time is 11 days as compared to 45 days via sea route and over 30% reduction in rail fares as opposed to traditional routes.