Freight train in Iran. Photo: Flickr

Istanbul-Tehran-Islamabad container train may finally run

The national railways of Turkey, Iran and Pakistan have agreed to resume regular operations of the Istanbul-Tehran-Islamabad (ITI) container train as soon as possible. All necessary preparations for dispatching the ITI Container train have been fulfilled. It is now up to the customers to realise the departure.

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The ITI corridor was launched in 2009 within the framework of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), an Asian political and economic intergovernmental organisation. Various test journeys were carried out, but it has not become a stable regular service since then. With unified tariffs and a steady timetable in each country, this should be different this time.

This was announced at the 30th Meeting of the Regional Planning Council (RPC) of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), held from 14 to 16 January in Tehran. The availability of the train is actively promoted in each country, in order to dispatch this train as soon as possible, the companies said.


The railway line has great potential. Initially, it took a train 15 days to make the 6500km journey, and this was eventually reduced to 11.5 days. The train can carry 20, 40ft rail cars. The route has been recognised as an international corridor by the United Nations.

It is foreseen that the railway not only connects these three countries, but also forms a link between Europe and Asia. From Istanbul, there are good connections to Europe and with the use of the Marmara undersea railway tunnel, the delivery could be even faster. The Marmara railway tunnel was recently opened for rail freight traffic, allowing for a faster link between the European and Asian side of the Turkish city.

On the other end, India and Bangladesh have expressed interest to connect to the line, in order to realise a faster transport link to the Middle East and Europe. The ITI train is also called the Eco Container Train.

Map of ITI corridor

Also read:

A tour through Iran as a rail freight transit country

Author: Majorie van Leijen

Majorie van Leijen is the editor-in-chief of, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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