Turkey will be launching the second train of the Eastern Express, between the capital Ankara and the eastern province of Kars, on May 29.
The train will be inaugurated by Transport and Infrastructure Minister Cahit Turhan and Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy.
The government decided to put the new train into service solely for the purpose of tourism after the Eastern Express became so popular that people trying to reach eastern Turkey by train could no longer find tickets.
The country is launching the second train in response to the rising demand for the traditional express train. The Culture and Tourism Ministry is aiming to boost the popularity of "travel-by-train" tourism and to spread it across other cities in Turkey. The Eastern Express, which first set out on May 15, 1949, is operated by the General Directorate of Turkish State Railways (TCDD) Transport Inc. on the Ankara-Kars line.
The train, which completes a 300-kilometer railway journey in about 25 hours, makes brief stops at 53 stations during the journey.
Thanks to the efforts of the Transport and Infrastructure Ministry to increase the interest in the Eastern Express, the extensive social media coverage of the express as an extraordinary holiday option and the cooperation with tour operators, the demand for this travel route is increasing day by day. The new train will be sent off from Ankara to Kars on May 29 at 7:55 p.m. in a ceremony attended by the two ministers.
The new tourist-only Eastern Express, launched to promote train tourism in Turkey, will start from Ankara on Monday-Wednesday-Friday and from Kars on Wednesday-Friday-Sunday.
On the way from Ankara, the train will stop at Erzincan, İliç and Erzurum stations, while the passenger will get the chance to visit the historical and touristic places on the way back at the Divriği and Bostankaya stations in Sivas.
The new train will consist of nine cars, including two service, one dining, and six sleeping cars. With a capacity of 120 passengers, the train will complete the Ankara-Kars route in 27 hours.
The train, which will run every other day on the Ankara-Kars-Ankara line, will set out from Ankara at 7:55 p.m. and from Kars at 11:55 p.m.
The tickets went on sale on May 14, with TL 400 being charged for a single compartment and TL 250 per person for a double compartment.
The 1,300-kilometer route of the Eastern Express has been in high demand thanks to the picturesque landscape it travels through. As a result, the Culture and Tourism Ministry, through consultations with experts in the tourism sector, decided to launch a nine-car train for touristic purposes only. Before the newfound popularity, the average age of passengers on the train was 50, but now most passengers are university students.
Photographers and videographers are also among the most frequent travelers, as the route provides a wealth of landscapes and vistas, especially during winter. For those looking to be dazzled by a winter wonderland, January and February are the ideal months to travel on the Eastern Express.
After leaving Ankara, the train makes brief stops in the eastern cities of Kırıkkale, Kayseri, Sivas, Erzincan and Erzurum before reaching Kars. At the end of the trip, passengers can stretch their legs, or take a sleigh ride on the frozen Lake Çıldır in Kars.
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