New passenger rail service connects Turkey and Iran
A passenger train from the Iranian capital of Tehran arrived in the eastern Turkish city of Van on June 25 morning, a few weeks after Turkish and Iranian authorities finalized plans to launch train services between the two countries. As Hurriyet Daily News writes, it took around 21 hours for the train to reach Van with 79 Iranian passengers on board. The line, which has a capacity of 180 passengers, will operate once a week from Tehran to Van, and vice versa.
The passenger train left Tehran at 9:30 a.m. on June 24, after it was suspended since 2011. The train stopped midway at Tabriz, the capital city of East Azerbaijan province in northwestern Iran. The train was scheduled to depart for Tehran on June 25 at 9 p.m. from Van. Mehrdad Nasseri, the head of the department of tourism at Raja Rail Transportation Company of Iran, expressed his pleasure about the resumption of the Tehran-Van train service.
“These [train] services will continue this way. We have come on this train [from Iran] with 79 passengers. This is a good number but we hope that this number increases. We want to increase the number of [weekly] services by informing passengers and advertising [the service]. We believe that with the number of [train] services increasing, the cooperation between Iran and Turkey will also develop,” Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency quoted Nasseri as saying.
“For these [train] service to resume, there was a high demand from passengers. Since there was a high demand from especially Tehran and cities close to there, we have extended the Tabriz-Van service to Tehran-Van. We have fulfilled their [passengers’] wishes and ensured that the number of passengers increased this way,” he reportedly said.
The train service between Tabriz and Van was suspended in 2015 due to security concerns over clashes between the Turkish military and the illegal PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union -- on the route. But the line was restored last year.
Nasseri said that the resumed Tehran-Van line will be followed by another from Tehran to Ankara soon. Located near the Iranian border, Van is a tourist attraction for its natural wonders and historic monuments. Over the years, it has become a top destination for Iranian tourists, especially during Iranian national holidays.