KARS, Turkiye

A train which ran between Turkiye and Armenia brings back nostalgia to people on both sides of the border.

Amid a thaw in relations between Turkiye and Armenia, people in Turkiye’s eastern province Kars are waiting for the Dogukapi border crossing to reopen after nearly three decades.

The border was closed in 1993 in response to Armenia’s occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh, which is internationally recognized as Azerbaijani territory.

Turkiye’s Eastern Express line, which attracts many tourists, departs from the capital city of Ankara, and arrives in eastern province Kars after a 25-hour-long journey with picturesque views all along the route of 1,310 kilometers (814 miles). From Kars, there is another regional train departing for Akyaka district, located near the Armenian border. Through the Dogukapi border crossing, one can reach Armenia’s border city Gyumri.

Recaling those busy days when trains would travel between Turkiye and Armenia, business people and former railway workers say a possible reopening of the line would contribute to the trade and tourism in the region.

Ilim Goktas, who worked for six years at the Dogukapi train station, told Anadolu Agency he hopes “the gate will reopen.”

“Peace and tranquility will come to the region, our economy will revive,” he added.

Stating that he had to leave his job after the Dogukapi border crossing was closed, Goktas said: “At that time, coal, fiber, sunflower, cotton and iron would come in (to Turkiye through that route).”

“We stayed very busy transferring the cargo coming from Armenia and Russia to Turkish trains at our station,” he recalled.

He added that around 100 people would work in shifts at the border crossing at the time.

Livestock from the Turkish provinces of Van, Mus, Agri, Kars and Erzurum would also be sent to the Soviet Union through that gate, he added.

Cahit Akbulak, a retired worker, stated that they operated three shifts due to the high workload on the railway line between the two countries.

Kenan Akbulak, a village head, said: “With the opening of Dogukapi, there will be job opportunities, imports and exports in our village.”

Businessperson Alican Alibeyoglu said: “We should see the railway here as the old Silk Road that extends to China and Siberia. Opening the gate will contribute to Kars and other cities in the region.”

* Writing by Iclal Turan.

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