By Muhammet Mutaf
ERZURUM, Turkey (AA) – Turkey is looking into starting another train for tourists traveling to the country's east after receiving complaints that tickets of the Eastern Express are always sold out.
“Let's organize another train which will be suitable for this purpose, so tourists can travel by this train. The Eastern Express can continue running and the [new] train can be used by tourists, ” Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy said
During Monday's travel on the Eastern Express, Ersoy said that this train was not designed for tourism but only to transport passengers in the snowy weather.
It became famous through social media posts of passengers, he said, adding that tickets are sold out months before a journey.
He added he will hold talks with Transport Minister Mehmet Cahit Turhan to arrange another train on the same route.
“Tourism trains around the globe have some famous destinations. Our route can easily be an international tourism destination, ” Ersoy said.
The Eastern Express is a dedicated rail line between Turkey’s capital Ankara and the eastern Kars province.
The train, one of Turkey’s oldest rail lines, keeps attracting people looking to take in the unparalleled landscapes all the way to Kars. It takes 24 hours to reach the destination.
The trains are often fully booked during the wintertime from December through March.
The Eastern Express stops in the Kirikkale, Kayseri, Sivas, Erzincan, and Erzurum provinces before reaching its last destination.
The Eastern Express includes seven coaches, including a dining car. Seated coaches have 60 passengers each, while couchettes have 40.
Couchette wagons have 10 compartments with four passengers apiece.
A ticket costs nearly 50 Turkish liras ($9.5).
Roughly 400,000 passengers took the Eastern Express last year; nearly 320,000 passengers took it in 2017.