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Mesopotamia Express, a new tourist-oriented train service, woos Turks

 In late April, the Mesopotamia Express, a new tourist-oriented train service, embarked on its maiden journey from Ankara, the Turkish capital, to the eastern province of Diyarbakir.

The launch of the express marks the latest expansion of Türkiye’s rail services, which have experienced significant growth over the past decade in an effort to diversify Türkiye’s tourism industry, a key driver of the national economy.

Scenic train journeys have emerged as a trendy choice for both domestic and foreign tourists eager to discover Türkiye’s historic sites.

The Mesopotamia Express is designed to offer travelers an immersive journey through the country’s diverse landscapes and rich history, now extending to ancient Mesopotamia, often regarded as the cradle of civilizations.

Spanning a distance of 1,051 kilometers, the journey includes three stops where travelers can savor regional cuisine and explore archaeological sites in southeastern Anatolia.

Mehmet Kaya, president of the Diyarbakir Chamber of Commerce and Industry, emphasized the significance of the new route for the development of tourism in the region, as reported by the Daily Sabah newspaper.

The new train service was launched at a time when the Touristic Eastern Express has gained increasing popularity. The express route links Ankara with Kars, a historic city located near the borders with Georgia and Armenia.

Almira Aygen, a university student from Ankara, along with several friends, took the 30-hour journey onboard the Eastern Express in February.

“We were very excited, because tickets for this ride are difficult to obtain, but with the help of a travel agency, ultimately we got them,” she said.

Aygen said she enjoyed the scenery as the train travelled 1,300 km eastward from the Turkish capital to the snowy borders of the country.

“This train route has become a trend in recent years, particularly among the younger generations eager to discover a part of their country that they did not explore before,” said Ender Senkan, a travel vlogger.

He said that while Türkiye may not be widely considered as a top train destination, but new train routes are drawing more attention from social media users and tickets of those routes are often difficult to get.

“Economical and comfortable transportation services enable the exploration of Anatolia’s historical and natural wonders. In recent years, the Eastern Express has become a favourite of travellers and art enthusiasts seeking different holiday options,” Transport and Infrastructure Minister Abdulkadir Uraloglu said in a statement in December 2023.

“Train tourism options will be gradually increased,” he said, stressing the significant revival of train travel worldwide.

Famagusta Gazette