LAHORE: To the extent of route (Derince-Kapikoy) originating and passing through its territory, Turkey has announced tariff /charges for Istanbul-Tehran-Islamabad freight train.

However, schedule for resumption of the train which is called ECO (Economic Cooperation Organisation) is yet to be agreed and finalised by Pakistan, Iran and Turkey due to various issues, Dawn has learnt.

According to a report submitted by the quarters concerned in the Turkish government (railways, foreign and logistic affairs) at a recent meeting held by the ECO secretariat virtually, the container tariff for export, import and transit had been set as 0.18 Euro per km and 0.23 Euro per km for each 20 and 40 feet loaded container, respectively. Similarly, 0.09 Euro per km and 0.12 per km tariff have been set for 20 and 40 feet for each empty container, respectively.

In addition to this, 10 Euro per wagon as customs formality charges will also apply. Similarly, for loaded containers, 5.50 euro per ton (minimum charges based on 14 tones per wagon) and, for empty containers, 5.60 euro per ton (minimum charges based on seven tonnes per wagon) will also be charged. Likewise, 20 Euro per wagon will also be charged for passing Bosphorus (Marmaray).

For conventional wagon tariff (export, import and transit), 0.010 euro per ton and km will be charged according to actual weight of the goods, not less than

7,000kg per axle of the wagon. The additional charges, which include 10 Euro per wagon (customs formality charges), 5.60 euro per ton (ferry charges for Lake Van) and 20 Euro per wagon for passing Bosphorus (Marmaray) will be charged.

“Since the wagons to run along the ITI corridor will be exempted from RIV rental fee, the aforementioned prices are valid until further notice,” reads the report.

As per current scenario explained in another report, having analysis of sea freight versus ITI train, shared in the meeting, the train operations strained due to the fact that High Value Customers comprising large export industries have shown their hesitancy to route shipments through ITI Train due to the L/C (Letter of Credit) conditions/restrictions by the consignee banks in the wake of US sanctions.

However, the low value customers who are mainly commercial importers or medium size local companies and are commodity-based cargo don’t account for such restrictions and have shown their willingness to avail ITI route provided there is significant freight margin. Secondly, ITI operations are obliged to move only consignments from Turkey to Pakistan and vice versa, and there is no Iran cargo available as E- Form issuance is withheld for Iran exports (due to sanctions).

The report suggests a way forward stating that to avail the lower unit transportation cost and high-capacity utilization, concurrent two-way traffic is necessary. But, current ITI Freight Pricing Model with identical rates for both sides’ haulage cannot guarantee a two-way traffic.

According to Pakistan Railways record, the first train from Islamabad to Istanbul was inaugurated on Aug 14, 2009. Similarly, the first train from Istanbul to Islamabad dry port reached on Aug 13, 2010. Eight trains have been dispatched from Pakistan to Turkey, with the last leaving the Lahore dry port on Nov 5, 2011. Since the launch of the service in 2009, Turkey has sent six trains to Pakistan, with the last one reaching here on Dec 9, 2011. Later the ITI train service suspended for an indefinite period due to various issues. However, after a gap of nine years or so, the ECO secretariat started making efforts in October last year to resume the train operation from March 4 this year. However, it delayed due to various issues.

Published in Dawn, May 9th, 2021

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