The Turkish railway sector seems to flourish year-over-year

There is no doubt that political and social unrests in Turkey in the last two years have affected the business sector and many of the investments have suffered from subsidence. Private investments have been, to some extent, delayed, leading to a slower economic growth. Even facing this issues, Turkey urbanized significantly, opened up to foreign trade and finance, harmonized many laws and regulations with European Union (EU) standards, including the Railway Sector Reform, and greatly expanded access to public services.
More that that, The Medium-Term Economic Programme 2017-2019 published in October 2016 announced further investments in infrastructure. Moreover, Turkey seems to take advantage from the great importance of investing in the railway transport system.

The railway network expansion projects and the liberalisation of the rail sector, launched at the beginning of 2017, will reshape the entire transport sector. Thus, major metropolitan and industrial areas will be connected by high speed or conventional railway lines. European and international railway industry suppliers are already developing innovative projects regarding urban and heavy rail transport segment.
Moreover, announcing the intention of purchasing new 106 high speed trainsets will certainly raise the attention of the European rail supply industry over the next period and important projects will follow.

The Railway Liberalisation Reforms goes as expected

In January 2017, Turkish Railways (TCDD) General Manager, İsa Apaydın and TCDD Taşımacılık General Director, Veysi Kurt, signed the contract for the official rail access agreement.
İsa Apaydın, the General Director of TCDD, recalled that there is a new beginning in railway transport and after the Law on Liberalisation of Turkish Railway Transport, the work on secondary legislation as well as the restructuring of TCDD and the subsidiary partnership of TCDD, TCDD Taşımacılık, was completed and the operation is also finalised.
The Rail Liberalisation Legislation involves general terms and taxation of open access to rail network, procedure for usage of capacity, content of contracts between infrastructure operator(s) and train operators as well as how restrictions/construction works should be managed. With this legislation, access to rail network is now completely free. The private operators will pay track access charges to TCDD. The customers of the railway – both existing and new – are given a wider range of choice in terms of service quality and pricing. So they can choose which train operator to use.

3,500 km of high speed lines by 2023

We all know about the high speed railway lines Turkey launched starting 2009 when rail service began between Ankara and Eskişehir. Futher to that, Ankara-Konya high speed railway entered commercial service in 2011 and Eskişehir-Konya line in 2013.
This trend continues, as it was announced this year at the Eurasia Rail Conference held in Istanbul. Turkey will set its standards higher towards meeting the objectives for the 2023 anniverssary of the Turkish Republic.
According to the rail transport sector strategy in Turkey, USD 45 billion (EUR 40 billion) of the USD 350 billion (EUR 309.6 billion), investment that is scheduled to be assigned to the transport sector, is planned to be allocated to the railways. Of the total 13,000 kilometers of railways to be constructed until 2023, 3,500 kilometers will be of high-speed, 8,500 kilometers will be of rapid transit and 1,000 kilometers will be of conventional railways.
Turkey acknowledges railways as a preferred mode of transport for freight and is trying to identify ways to increase its share. Turkey also plans to carry freight and passengers from hubs around the country via high speed train networks that will be connected to international railway networks.
Moreover, at the end of 2018, Turkey expects to have 10,556 km of conventional line, and by 2023 all conventional lines will amount to 12,770 kilometres. Over the next three years, Turkish Railways (TCDD) plans to invest over TL 20 billion (EUR 8.4 billion) in transport-related projects.
“Turkey, through its ambitious projects and achievements in the rail sector, is an optimal place to demonstrate to an international audience of decision-makers, how the development of a modern and effective rail transport system can strongly contribute to economic growth and social development. Let us just mention the fast development of the Turkish high speed network, of modern freight and intermodal services, the projects of intercontinental corridors connected to the Silk Roads”, Jean-Pierre Loubinoux commented on the developments and investment in railways in Turkey as the backbone of the mobility system of the future.
İsa Apaydın, Director General of Turkish Railways, also gave an overview of the large number of achievements and railway projects currently underway in Turkey.
”To this day, the total investment made to highways, railways, airways and maritime lines is TRY 304 billion and the biggest share in this investment belongs to railways with TRY 60 billion. These investments contribute to the development of the country; the more these investments are made efficiently, the faster the development will progress. Our goal for 2023 is to extend the current railway network which is 12,500 km to 25,000 km. In this direction, we are aiming to make an investment of USD 500 billion to the railway sector in 2023”, pointed Yüksel Coşkunyürek, Vice-President within the Ministry of Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communication.

Konya-Karaman high speed rail could be inaugurated in 2017

In a statement from January 2017, Transport Minister Ahmet Arslan said Konya-Karaman high-speed train enters service at the end of 2017 and that high speed rail works currently continue on the Ankara-Konya and Konya-Eskişehir-Istanbul high speed railway lines.
Ankara-Sivas high-speed train line is not part of the construction and we did not start the project yet. We have started the procurement processes for the superstructure. Our goal is to provide uninterrupted transport from Istanbul to Sivas via Ankara at the end of 2018.
Minister Arslan said that they want to complete the construction for the Ankara-İzmir High Speed Train Project, which will connect two of the three largest cities in Turkey.
The Minister also pointed out that the high-speed train projects are continuing at a rapid pace. Construction work has been continuing between Konya-Karaman and Adana-Gaziantep during the Konya-Karaman-Ulukışla-Mersin-Adana-Osmaniye-Gaziantep – Arslan stated that the tender process of the Sivas-Zara line, which is the first part of the Sivas-Erzincan high-speed train project, is continuing and that the work continues from Yerköy to Kayseri.
Ankara-Sivas high speed line starts commercial service in 2018

Apart from this important project, Turkish Railways (TCDD) also announced that in 2017 it could launch the tender procedure for the construction of a new 142 kilometers high speed line.
”An important manufacturing issue consisting of approximately 62 kilometers between Ankara and Sivas is a matter of production. Overall progress of these works was 55%. Especially since the Yerköy-Sivas section went ahead, this year we will start major construction works. I hope that by the end of 2018 we could finish construction works and run the tests”, İsa Apaydın, General Manager of Turkish Railways (TCDD) announced. The Ankara-Sivas high speed rail will be 406 kilometers long.
Apaydın pointed out that the infrastructure works for the high speed line from Kayaş to Sivas continued and within a month the Yerköy-Sivas line was planned to be completed with works on the superstructure electromechanical part.
Ankara-Sivas rail line will be integrated into Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway rroject with Sivas – Erzincan, Erzincan- Erzurum – Kars rapid railway lines.
”The high speed journey from Ankara to Sivas will take 2 hours. Of course, this is not only a connection between Ankara and Sivas, but it is also a connection to Istanbul. Therefore, the Istanbul-Sivas train journey will also be reduced to 5 hours. At the same time, Konya, Izmir, Bursa will have high speed rail connection. After Sivas and Erzincan, our route to Kars will be connected in the same way. Sivas will be a high-speed trendy center. It will be connected to all the arteries in both the east and the west”, İsa Apaydın added.
”A new high-speed train line of about 142 kilometers from Yerköy to Kayseri has been projected at the moment. Our goal is to complete this planning project in mid 2017. We hope to launch the tender procedure, for the construction of this line, and also to launch the construction works towards the end of 2017″ TCDD General Manager explained.

Another high speed line will be tendered

Turkish Railways (TCDD) announced the finalisation of a suvery for the proposed Gölbaşı-Adıyaman-Kahta new high speed line. TCDD also said that interested bidders were waiting for the survey. When the line is completed, unlike other high-speed train lines, it will be used both for passenger and freight transport. The General Directorate of TCDD made preparations for the Gölbaşı-Adıyaman-Kahta high-speed train line. The feasibility study will be done after the result of the survey.
The length of the railway line is 100 kilometers and will have both passenger and freight trains will run on conventional speed.

New high-speed lines from Eskişehir to Antalya and from Samsun to Ankara, on the agenda

A new high-speed train project connecting Eskişehir to Antalya will be realised, Transport Minister, Ahmet Arslan, announced. He said the line between the Central Anatolian province of Eskişehir and the Mediterranean province of Antalya would pass through the Aegean province of Afyonkarahisar. Minister Arslan stressed that Eskişehir was a significant junction point for transport.
Samsun-Ankara high-speed train project begins as Transport Minister Ahmet Arslan, announced that the 95-kilometer high-speed train project between Samsun and Merzifon section feasibility study is completed and the definitive project tender process continues.
Minister Arslan said that „the project which includes the investment programme as a survey-project for Samsun-Merzifon 95 kilometers section, Merzifon-Çorum 96 kilometers section, Çorum-Kırıkkale 95 kilometers section. We have completed the study projects of all three sections this year. Final project tendering processes are continuing. We will start the construction process after finishing the exact projects of the Ankara-Samsun high-speed train project.”
The entire Samsun-Ankara rail corridor is 450 kilometers long, including the main route of the Samsun-Kırıkkale railway line, which consists of 284 kilometers. The new high speed rail project will reduce the distance between Ankara and Samsun to 2 hours and includes the construction of 119 tunnels, 64 bridges and viaducts.

Bursa city will be connected to the high speed rail network

In March, Turkish Minister of Labor and Social Security, Mehmet Müezzinoğlu, announced that Bursa city would see the commercial service of the high speed rail network very soon.”The tender for the high speed train will be organised in May 2017”, Müezzinoğlu said.
The railway line in Bursa will be integrated in the Bandırma-Bursa-Osmaneli high speed line which Turkish Railways (TCDD) plans to build. At Osmaneli there will be an intersection with the Istanbul-Eskisehir-Ankara high speed line. Yenisehir city is also included on the map of the high speed line towards Bursa city.

Studies prepared for Kayseri-Antalya high speed rail

The Kayseri – Konya – Antalya railway is another project that is planned for the 100th anniversary of the Turkish Republic in 2023. This project will facilitate transport to the inner regions of Turkey from the Mediterranean coast line, Antalya, Konya and Cappadocia regions. The distance between Kayseri and Antalya is about 500 km.
”The Antalya-Konya-Aksaray-Nevşehir-Kayseri Rapid Railway Project, which has a length of approximately 642 km, is planned to be electrified and signalled double track line. The line to be suitable for 200 km/h speed will be used both for freight and passenger transport. The design studies for all sections are ongoing”, TCDD Director General Apaydın explained.

Baku-Tbilisi-Kars rail corridor opens in 2017

Turkey’s Transport, Maritime and Communications Minister Ahmet Arslan said that the long-anticipated Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project, which has prospects of to double Turkey’s rail transport capacity, will be completed within two months, which could happen possibly this May.
Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project will have a total length of 838.6 kilometers, connecting the Turkish province of Kars with the capital of Azerbaijan, Baku and the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, located in Central Asia. Transport Minister Arslan said the route will became an important part of the middle corridor in China’s ”One Belt, One Road” project. This rail line is designed to become a key part of the southern route of the emerging New Silk Road network of trade and transport corridors that are being constructed to connect China and Europe.
Turkish Railways’ network plays a crucial role in shaping and delivering seamless transport connections that will bypass road and maritime transport sectors. In this respect, the opening of Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway corridor, the launching being announced for 2017, is a much needed and expected project on the Eurasian transport Platform.
Turkey seeks to develop the long distance and interoperable railway lines. Turkey has been planning to connect 15 metropolitan areas with the high speed railway network, until 2023. This measure will give a great boost to the modern and eco-friendly transport system. In this context, the connection with the trans-European transport network (TEN-T), is a national priority.
”Within the scope of the targets, the construction of 1,213 kilometers of high speed line was completed. The construction works of Ankara-Sivas, Ankara-İzmir High Speed Railway Lines and the design studies of Kayseri-Yerköy High Speed Railway Line are ongoing”, TCDD General Manager explained for Railway PRO magazine.

by Elena Ilie

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