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Pakistan working on ITI railway project: Pak minister

Khwaja Saad Rafique made the remarks while addressing the 9th high level Working Group meeting of ECO Container Train on Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul route.

He said, a few years ago, Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul train formerly known as Goods Train was initiated by Pakistan, Iran and Turkey to foster trade relations by rail; however, the operation could not sustain due to various problems.

I expect that participants of this high level working group will examine all its possibilities to come up with practical solutions to ensure regular running of the ITI (Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul) train besides developing consensus on its tariff and charges and infrastructure improvement and development of exclusive corridors and management of ITI trains corridor, he said.

Saad Rafique said, integrated regional transport system means that a person coming from Kabul or Dhaka should be able to travel to London or anywhere in Europe through Pakistan, Iran and Turkey and expressed confidence that it was quite achievable with the technological innovations available now regarding change of gauge.

This will require political will of the governments in all issues causing road block in regional connectivity and adopt a joint integrated planning approach to achieve this goal, he said.

He urged Islamic Development and Economic Cooperation Organization Trade and Development Bank to promote investment in railways to better connectivity among ECO states.

The minister said poor condition of railways track from Quetta to Taftan(a Pakistan town near Iran border) is a major bottleneck in regional connectivity and onwards to Europe while the rail links from Chaman to Spin Boldak to Kandahar and onwards connecting to Turkmenistan is also under consideration.

Saad Rafique expressed confidence that through untiring efforts and with the cooperation of international and regional financial institutions in next decade, the regional nations would be able to develop fast track railway infrastructure to benefit natives of the whole region.

Source: Islamic Republic News Agency

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