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Fri, 01/19/2018 - 15:28
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Thousands enjoy Eastern Express overnight train to Kars

ANKARA With the onset of winter, more and more people are hopping aboard the Eastern Express, a dedicated rail line between Turkey’s capital Ankara and the northeastern province of Kars. Local and foreign tourists, university students, mountaineering and hiking groups, and photographers flock to the train to enjoy the wonders wintertime has to offer. The train, one of Turkey’s oldest rail lines, keeps attracting people looking to take in the unparalleled landscapes all the way to Kars. The train takes 24 hours to reach its destination. After photos went viral on social media, the number of sleeping cars was increased from one to five. The train also has two couchette wagons. The trains are often fully booked during the wintertime from December through March. Travelers of all ages show a very warm solidarity, sharing food and conversation with others, relaxing in the coaches. Many university student travelers enjoy the journey accompanied by entertainment and songs. Unique journey The Eastern Express stops in the Kirikkale, Kayseri, Sivas, Erzincan, and Erzurum provinces before reaching its last destination. One train traveler, Elifnaz Bilgin, 23, who is studying art history in Izmir, told Anadolu Agency she came across the Eastern Express after searching for a unique journey with her friend. She added she had enjoyed the journey and its stunning views of some parts of the country. Tegmen Aydin, who does stockbreeding in Kars, said he took the train with his wife and four children for the first time to Ankara. “I was wondering about train travel. I didn’t image it was so comfortable.” Nearly 320,000 passengers took the Eastern Express last year, and it carried over 14,000 passengers from Ankara to Kars since the start of the year, according to the Turkish State Railways. 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.