Bandar e Anzali port, Iran. Source: Wikimedia Commons

It’s one of those quintessential journeys that make people dream: Istanbul-Tehran-Islamabad by train. Let’s call it ITI.

Soon, in early 2021, ITI will become a reality. But, initially, just as a freight train. The deal was recently sealed in Istanbul, at the 10th meeting of the transport and communication ministers of member countries of the Economic Cooperation Organization.  

ITI’s official name is actually the ECO Container Train. Trial runs started in 2019. The 6,500 km overland journey should now take 11 days – compared with the roughly 45 days across sea lanes for trade between Western Europe and Pakistan.