The first Tehran-Damascus express passenger train left Tehran for Syria on Saturday after 19 years of suspension, according to Iran’s news agency (IRNA). Meanwhile, the Damascus-Tehran train left Damascus in the presence of Syrian President Bashar Assad Saturday night.
Israeli Haaretz daily said, however, that the train left the northern Syrian city of Aleppo en route to Tehran via Turkey. The Aleppo-Tehran service initially will run once a week.
Iran’s Minister of Roads and Transportations Rahman Dadman referred to the importance of boosting the tourism industry in the region and said one of the major reasons for launching this new train line was to provide a convenient means for the tourists and pilgrims wishing to visit tourist attractions of Iran, Turkey and Syria.
Dadman said, "the inauguration of this express line in the Middle East also would serve as a symbol of peace, stability and reliable conditions for expansion of tourism here."
The Tehran-Istanbul express which had ceased offering services since 1993 becomes operational once again, providing lots of commercial possibilities for the private and public business sectors of Iran and Turkey, said IRNA.
Dadman in a meeting on Monday January 29 with his Syrian counterpart Makrem Obeid had said some 500 kilometers of new railways would joint Iran's nationwide railway to Syria's in near future.
He had expressed Iran's readiness to review its agreements on aviation cooperation with Syria.
Dadman had stated that Iran is also ready to cooperate with Syria in the area of engineering of ports and conducting the hydrographic projects and dredging of ports.
He had further said that Iran is in a position to organize training courses for the Syrian staffers.
The Syrian Minister Makrem Obeid too, has recently said that his country is interested in inking agreements to expand cooperation with Iran in the area of maritime transportation since he said the move would decrease the consumer goods' prices for both nations.
A ticket costs $14 each way. The service is expected to encourage religious tourism by carrying Iranian pilgrims to visit Shiite holy shrines in Syria, said Haaretz.
Most Iranians are Shiite Muslims. Rail service between Syria and Iran was suspended in 1982 because of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, in which Syria sided with Iran – Albawaba.com
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