Turkey and Iran have called upon Pakistan to review the tariff for Istanbul-Tehran-Islamabad (ITI) freight train on the basis of actual weight and per kilometre instead of the fixed charges for the 1,990km journey from Iran’s Zahedan city to Islamabad.
In two recent coordination meetings of the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) — held virtually on March 1 and 4 — both Turkish and Iranian authorities requested their Pakistani counterparts to introduce the per km distance charges rather than the fixed ones, which according to them, appear expensive to their business community and forwarding agents. Pakistan assured Turkey and Iran to consider the requests, an official source in the Pakistan Railways informed Dawn.
The ITI freight train, also known as the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) Train, was set to resume operations on March 4 after a period of nine years. However, mishandling, negligence and other administrative issues on the part of Ministry of Railways delayed the resumption of the train service which is expected to start operations later this month.
Iran, Turkey oppose fixed freight charges for 1,990km Zahedan-Islamabad journey
According to minutes of the recent two meetings, Mehmat Altinosy, Ohan Akoay, Alperen Gulal and Kaveh Sabetkalam from Turkey, Shahram Jafari, Ali Abdollahi and Amin Pourbarkhordari from Iran, Imran Hayat, Kashif Yousefani, Ms Jehan Badar, Dr Hassan Tahir Bukhari and Shoaib Khan from Pakistan and Ahmad Saffari and Maryam Torabi from the ECO Secretariat attended the sessions. Maximum payload for 20 and 40 feet containers and rates (0.18 euro per km for a loaded 20-feet equaling unit/container, 0.23 euro per km for a loaded 40-feet equaling unit/container, 0.012 euro per km for conventional cargo and 5.60 euro per ton for lake van and 50 per cent of the full containers for the empty containers) were discussed in detail.
Pakistan announced agreeing on the tariff, already okayed previously, for the conventional wagon (for export, import and transit) between Turkey and Iran for Rs0.012 euro per km and clarified that the rates would be calculated based on the maximum payload for the charge (20 and 40-feet units/containers equalling to 20 and 40 tons respectively). However, the representatives of Turkey and Iran requested Pakistan that rates be charged based on the actual weight as agreed earlier.
On the issue of distance for charge, representatives of Turkey and Iran requested that the way of charge be calculated as container/conventional wagon per km and not as fixed rate of 1,990km single journey for all destinations. On this, the Pakistan Railways’ representatives agreed to consider the request, minutes of the meeting shared with Dawn read.
In a follow-up meeting, the participants again discussed the freight tariff related issues. On the issue of distance for charge, Pakistan, on this occasion announced that it is committed to the operation of the train and said it will implement the calculation according to a fixed rate of 1,990km single journey for all destinations. However, it agreed to negotiate with the other two parties (Turkey and Iran) and, if requested, to consider the charge to be calculated as container/conventional wagon per km and not as a fixed rate of 1990 km single journey for all destinations.
The representative of a freight forwarding company hired temporarily by Pakistan said that calculating the additional costs (if any) along with an analogical comparative report on rail and maritime charges for a clear understanding will be portrayed to potential cargo owners, the minutes read.
The Turkish and Iranian representatives urged Pakistan Railways’ Chief Marketing Officer Kashif Yousefani to provide the meeting with clarifications on the rates to be calculated based on actual kilometers.
Similarly, the representative of the Pakistani freight forwarding company was asked to provide an estimate of any additional costs, if any, along with an analogical comparative report. Moreover, the representative of a Turkish forwarding company was asked to commence negotiations with the Pakistani freight forwarding company for transferring the first run of the train and update the secretariat, read the minutes.
When contacted, Pakistan Railways Chief Executive Officer Nisar Ahmad Memon said fixed rates introduced by his department were already subsidised and cheapest one.
“We have already calculated them on the basis of per km and then made them fixed. These are applicable for three destinations in Pakistan including Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi,” he clarified. Despite all this, his department has started working on the tariff/rates as proposed by Iran and Turkey, Mr Memon added.