‘Touristic’ Eastern Express debuts on May 29
A touristic version of the Eastern Express, a scenic train service that links the capital Ankara with the eastern province of Kars, will debut on May 29 with an official ceremony attended by Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Cahit Turan and Culture Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy.
The train leaves Ankara at 7:55 p.m. and arrives in Kars 27 hours later. The tickets, which went on sale starting May 14, cost 400 Turkish Liras (approximately $65) per person for a single compartment and 250 Turkish Liras (approximately $41) for a double compartment.
The new line leaves Ankara on every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 7.55 p.m., and from Kars on every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday at 11.55 p.m.
The train can accommodate up to 120 passengers among its nine wagons.
The new line is an answer to complaints from passengers who said that tickets for the Eastern Express are frequently sold out.
The Eastern Express acquired more fame in the recent years as the result of social media posts by passengers. Its tickets are sold out months in advance.
The demand for the scenic Eastern Express trip, for instance, doubled this year compared with last year.
Although the Eastern Express runs yearlong, the route is especially popular in late autumn and winter because many people prefer seeing the landscape veiled in snow. The trains are often fully booked from December through March, prompting thousands to buy their tickets in advance.
Until a few years ago, taking the 24-hour train ride for a 1,365 kilometer trip—instead of a plane journey for a little over an hour—would have seemed like madness. But that perception changed when a group of young Turkish tourists booked sleeping car reservations on the train and shared the experience on social media.
Afterwards, the train increasingly drew tourists for fun, adventure, scenery, socializing and new experiences.
Now, tourists will be able to enjoy the scenic route on the new ‘Touristic’ Eastern Express line, increasing the availability of tickets on the original Eastern Express line for residents trying to reach eastern Turkey.
After setting off from the Ankara train station, the ‘Touristic’ Eastern Express will make stops at the Erzincan, İliç and Erzurum train stations. During those stops, tourists can get off the train and spend time touring historical sites in those areas. And for the Kars-Ankara line, the same will be the case for the Divrik and Bostankaya train stations, located in the Central Anatolian province of Sivas.