ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Iran and Turkey will work to enhance the existing state of rail and road infrastructure connecting these countries, which would help reduce travel time for goods cargo across Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) region.
This was agreed upon by representatives of both the public and private sectors of these countries and other ECO states during a series of meetings which were recently concluded in Turkey, says a press release issued here on Thursday.
The Eleventh Meeting of the Heads of ECO Railway Authorities was held from June 27-28, 2012 in Ankara. Pakistan was represented by Junaid Qureshi, GM Pakistan Railways and Amjad Rafi, Chairman of the Pakistan Turkey Business Council of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI).
During the course of the meeting, it was highlighted that the Quetta-Taftan rail track has to be upgraded. As there is a shortage of engines for this route on the Pakistan side, therefore, the Islamic Development Bank has requested some technical details from the Government of Pakistan to finalize funding for this project.
It was noted that owing to the above mentioned reasons, the Islamabad-Istanbul rail route has been un-operational over the past few months. However, the GM Railways announced that the rail service would be re-commenced from July 15, 2012.
Representatives of the business community from the three countries pointed out that in order to ensure interest of the private sector, it was essential that a regular schedule be announced for the train, with a fixed running time. The current running time of the train had increased from 14 days to 18 days, and Pakistan was requested to curtail the running time, which was longest in Pakistan’s territory (10 days).
The Second ECO Regional Conference on Road Transit Development and TIR Conventions was held in Istanbul from June 29-30, 2012. Pakistan was represented by Anwar Ahmed Khan, Secretary, Ministry of Communications and Amjad Rafi. The most important outcome of this meting was Government of Pakistan’s consent to accede to the TIR Convention. On the sidelines of this meeting, Pakistan, Iran and Turkey agreed to launch a pilot road corridor project among the three countries with the assistance of IRU, which would help reduce the travel time for goods cargo from the current 30 days (via ship) to eight days.