Exporters Unwilling to Send Goods through ITI Train

The Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul (ITI) freight train operation, which had resumed after a decade, is facing problems as exporters are not willing to book any consignment for the seventh train despite a delay of over 30 days, reported Dawn.

The exporters have said that the reasons behind not booking any new consignments are the damage caused to the goods during transportation, disagreements of freight forwarders on charges, lack of ownership from Pakistan Railways (PR), and other administrative failures.

A source told Dawn that the businesses have lost confidence in ITI train operations as the goods are taking excessive time to reach the destination than their expected time of arrival.

The first ITI train had reached its destination within 13 days, a couple of days earlier than its expected time. However, the trains that followed were delayed due to administrative issues between the three countries. The third train had reached its destination 10 days late, whereas the fourth train was delayed by two months.

The fifth ITI train was not only delayed by 45 days but also incurred damage to the goods worth Rs. 4-5 million due to an accident near a station in Baluchistan. The sixth train is still en route and waiting to be transferred to the Turkish standard gauge wagons.

The source from the business community said that given all these circumstances, exporters were not willing to risk their goods through ITI operations, and therefore, no one had booked the consignment for the seventh train.

  • If it’s just a matter of paperwork, then there must be coordination between the three countries. Geopolitically, it’s a bit tricky but trade is trade. A subsidiary must be established to safeguard not just the goods, operations, deal with the complaints and costs associated with these trains but also, to expand the rail infrastructure within Pakistan and beyond Istanbul into Europe. Going to Arab countries via Basra is also a step in the right direction. 13 days is way more than it should take for the goods to reach its destination. This train was meant to help save us time and cut shipping costs, which would in turn have given us an edge over our south Asian competitors.

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