ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Railways (PR) has geared up efforts to set off the proposed Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul international freight train service from August 14, TheNation learnt on Friday from official sources. The proposed train service will be operated as pilot project of Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) in line with agreement signed by the three countries in March this year. The proposed service would go full steam ahead once technical difficulties relating different rail gauges in Pakistan and Iran are sorted out. The Bam-Zahedan railway will be rehabilitated before coming August and work is underway to improve tracks from the Iranian border to Istanbul. We are trying to line up soft credit with international financial institutions to resolve the issue related to rail gauge between Pakistan and Iran before it is made a full-grown train service, a senior government official told TheNation. He explained that the freight train would initially be dedicated for the transportation of cargo containers and would eventually include other goods and passenger services. Sources revealed that Railways Minister Haji Ghulam Ahmed Bilour had recently demanded international cooperation for upgrading the Quetta-Taftan link. Assistance is needed from the ECO, the Islamic Development Bank and governments of Iran and Turkey for developing the link ... Pakistan Railways is trying to improve the section, but it requires massive investment, the sources quoted the minister as saying. Iran will provide transhipment facilities in Zahedan till a standard gauge line is laid between Zahedan and Mirjaveh. Out Of total 6,506 kilometres Islamabad-Istanbul rail track, the proposed train service covers about 1,900 km of the distance in Pakistan, 2,570 km in Iran and 2,036 km in Turkey. Official representatives from the three countries had held a series of meetings and successfully resolved issues relating to customs, cargo handling and timings of proposed train service. They further said that by the time the pilot freight train service got matured, other ECO member countries including Afghanistan might also join it. Trade organisations from various parts of the country have been demanding special quota for the transportation of their goods. The government will decide about the issue once the project was launched. The sources were of the view that the commencement of the train services would help boost trade and people-to-people contacts among the three important ECO states.