Dec 20 2017

Turkey’s East Express train finds Instagram fame

Sleeping car tickets for the snow-covered East Express railway journey to the Turkish city of Kars are sold out as soon as they have gone on sale after having been made popular by Instagram, the left-wing news site Gazete Duvar said.

The East Express, which goes between the capital Ankara and Kars, near the border with Armenia, became fashionable in Turkey after Instagram users began posting pictures of the stunning mountain scenery along route.

Travel agencies have since cashed in and started selling “KarsRail” tour packages for the previously unpopular route.

Now people who want to take the 27-hour train trip to Kars have reacted on social media, saying that rather than selling tickets directly to the public, the state railway company is selling them instead to travel agencies, which ask for between $300 to $500 for a Kars tour including East Express tickets.

The Transportation Ministry denied this was the issue.

“There is an agreement with travel agencies which allows them to rent carriages annually, but this is not the reason people cannot find tickets,” the ministry said, adding that an extra carriage had been added for the agencies.

“For the last two winter seasons, I was planning to go to Kars with the express, but I could not go as I could not find any tickets,” would-be traveller Naci Yavuz told the news site. “These trains used to travel empty. What has happened now? A new tour called “KarsRail” is been being sold at the travel agencies now. Strangely enough, these agencies can sell tours for three months’ time with tickets that are not yet on the market. That means the tickets are guaranteed for them.”