The railway network expansion projects and the liberalisation of the rail sector, the latter being launched at the beginning of 2017, will reshape the entire transport sector. Thus, major metropolitan and industrial areas will be connected by high speed. 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 rail supply industry over the next period and important projects will follow.
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, this year’s opening of Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway corridor is a much needed and expected experience.
Elena Ilie is talking with…
İsa Apaydın, Director General of Turkish Railways (TCDD)
Turkey’s ambition and commitment of growing into a major rail transport hub between Europe, the Far East and China, both for passenger and freight transport service, and also the intention of consolidating an own railway industry sector were tackled on the next pages in an interview with Mr İsa Apaydın, Director General of Turkish Railways (TCDD).
The Turkish government is investing heavily in its railways as it aims to deliver a modern network by 2023. Please, describe to us, in a few paragraphs the aim of this investitional objective?
İsa Apaydın: Within sectors, railway is getting ready to leave its mark on the transport system with Vision 2023 in the scope of the 100th establishment anniversary of the Republic. The importance given to the railway showed itself in the investment plan to reach the planned targets and investment allocation increased year by year.
Within this scope, so many projects have been realized successfully and we work intensively to realise many of them in the direction of the targets of high speed, rapid and conventional railway projects, modernisation of the existing lines, car park, stations and terminals, connecting the railway network to the production centers and ports, development of advanced railway industry together with private sector, making our country an important logistics hub in the region with logistics centers that are envisaged to provide great opportunities especially in the export, creating seamless railway corridor between two continents with the realization of the Modern Iron Silk Road that will extend from Far East Asia to Western Europe.
Completion of the restructuring and liberalisation process of the railways to ensure that the private sector can make railway operation through making the railways more efficient and productive sector is also another target along with developing the national railway industry.
What are the railway targets for 2023, when Turkey will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Turkish Republic?
İsa Apaydın: Our targets in the frame of Vision 2023 are as follows, move towards reaching a total of 25,000 km railway network in 2023 by constructing 13,000 km railway line including: 3,500 km high speed, 8,500 km rapid and 1,000 km conventional railway lines.
Completing the renovation of the entire network by renovating 4,400 km railway line, completing the liberalisation process of Turkish Railway Sector, applying Safety Management System at all stages of infrastructure and operations effectively and continuously and regarding it as a sectoral culture and widening the application of domestic signalling system and converting it to a trademark are among the targets for 2023.
Converting the existing vehicles compatible with high speed railway lines and manufacturing all types of rolling stock in Turkey is also one of the major objectives.
More important targets for the Turkish Railways envisage increasing the share of railway transport by 10% in passenger and by 15% in freight transport, ensuring the connection through branch lines with logistics centers, factories, industries, organised industrial zones and ports which have great freight potential and increasing the combined and freight transport.
Establishing National Railway Standards, establishing a Railway Transport Institute, supporting National Railway Industry and R&D and developing all kinds of railway technologies are also among the most important targets.
Developing international railway corridors is of significant importance for Turkish Railways.
Baku-Tbilisi-Kars is one of the most important projects of this century. How would you describe its importance on the Trans Eurasian transport platform?
İsa Apaydın: Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway Line, which is named as Modern Iron Silk Road and originating from Baku, capital of Azerbaijan and arriving in Kars through Georgian cities Tbilisi and Akhalkalaki, is planned to be put into service within this year.
With the realisation of the mentioned project, a seamless railway connection among Georgia, Azerbaijan and Central Asian Turkish Republics will be provided. Historical Silk Road will revive; economic, social and cultural cooperation among the countries will go further with seamless railway transportation from London to China.
The construction works of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway Line through which we aimed at carrying 6.5 million tonnes in the short term and 17 million tonnes in the long term, are about to be completed and the mentioned project is planned to be put into operation in the first half of the year.
Connecting new logistics facilities and major factories to the main line network will play a critical role in the development of the rail freight transport in Turkey. Could you please, give us more details about the freight railway terminals Turkey is currently developing?
İsa Apaydın: Logistics Centers have been established to develop corridors for the combined transport, to provide an effective connection among the transport modes, to perform the activities such as storing, maintenance-repair, loading and unloading, handling and etc. in an economic way.
With the logistics centers where all the transport modes are integrated, it is aimed to restructure the areas with high freight potential and close to the organized industrial zones.
Logistics Centers are planned to be constructed primarily at 20 locations that have intensive freight potential. These locations are İstanbul (Halkalı), Kocaeli (Köseköy), Eskişehir (Hasanbey), Balı-kesir (Gökköy), Kayseri (Boğazköprü), Samsun (Gelemen), Denizli (Kaklık), Mersin (Yenice), Erzurum (Palandöken), Uşak, Konya (Kayacık), İstanbul (Yeşilbayır), Bilecik (Bozüyük), Kahramanmaraş (Türkoğlu), Mardin, Sivas, Kars, İzmir (Kemalpaşa), Şırnak (Habur) and Bitlis (Tatvan).
7 logistics Centers were put into service in Samsun, Uşak, Denizli (Kaklık), Köseköy, Halkalı, Eskişehir (Hasanbey) and Balıkesir (Gök-köy).
The construction works of Bozüyük, Mardin, Erzurum, Mersin (Yenice), Kahramanmaraş (Türkoğlu), İzmir (Kemalpaşa) logistics centers is ongoing. Regarding other logistics centers the procedures for tenders, design and expropriation studies are continuing.
Following the completion of all centers, it is expected that they will create extra 27 million tonnes freight per year and 9 million m2 container, storing and handling area for the logistics sector.
How important is for Turkey the signing of the agreement on prospects of development of the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route (TITR), together with Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Georgia?
İsa Apaydın: The “Agreement on the Establishment of a Coordination Committee for Development of Trans-Caspian International Transport Route” was signed among Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Georgia in the 1st Meeting of Turkic Council Transportation Coordination Committee on 12-13 December 2013 in İstanbul.
As a result of the correspondences regarding the accession of our country to the mentioned agreement at Kazakhstan Railway’s request, “Agreement on the Establishment of a Coordination Committee for Development of Trans-Caspian International Transport Route and Appendix on the accession of Turkish State Railways to the confirmation of the provisions of Coordination Committee for Development of Trans-Caspian International Transport Route” were signed on 7 November 2014 in Ankara.
As it is known, Turkey is located on one of the most strategic areas of the world with its geopolitical position, growing economy and sociocultural structure. With the completion of the high speed railway projects, by strengthening the current bridge position of our country, the importance of the Historical Silk Road will increase further and the connection among Europe, Middle East, Central Asia and China will be provided.
In this way, the regional activity of our country will be reflected and its internal dynamic and economic development will gain continuity. Trans-Caspian Route has great potential for freight transport. For this reason, it is important to complete and realise the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway Project in order to be able to transport the freight to be transshipped on Trans-Caspian International Transport Route through TCDD network.
The impending liberalisation of the Turkish railway sector will open this up further. Starting January 2017, TCDD became solely an infrastructure manager with TCDD Transportation JSC founded to run passenger and freight operations on the network.
Could you give us more insights about the Turkish railway liberalisation programme and the next steps towards meeting its goals?
İsa Apaydın: The basic legislation for the liberalisation movement in railways has been completed. The sector has been liberalised by removing the obstacles standing against more efficient operation of our railways.
By «Law No. 6461 on the Liberalisation of Turkish Railway Transportation», TCDD is restructured as the railway infrastructure manager and consequently, “TCDD Transport JSC (TCDD Taşımacılık)” is established as an affiliated company of TCDD in order to ensure passenger and freight transport.
Regarding the Private Railway Train Operation, the companies established in accordance with the Turkish commercial Code have taken the opportunity to operate passenger and freight trains on the Turkish railway network.
Provided that the expropriation price is met by the company and through expropriating by state, the land required to build the railway infrastructure can be allocated to the company that is willing to be railway infrastructure manager for a maximum 49 years.
With the publication of the network statement, the liberalisation allowing the private sector to make train operation has started with the beginning of 2017.
Could you describe us, in a few paragraphs, the high speed railway network development programme and the status of the projects as Eskișehir-Antalya high speed line, Ankara-Sivas high speed line, Gebze – 3rd Bosphorus Bridge – Halkalı high speed line project, the Kayseri – Konya – Antalya high speed railway and Ankara-Izmir high speed rail line?
İsa Apaydın: Regarding the construction of high-speed railway, the corridors of Istanbul-Ankara-Sivas, Ankara-Afyonkarahisar-İzmir and Ankara-Konya by stating Ankara as the central station have been determined as the core network. It has been planned to connect 15 metropolitan cities with high speed train (YHT) and first of all YHT operation has been started on Ankara-Eskişehir, Ankara-Konya, Konya-İstanbul and Ankara-İstanbul Lines. Within the scope of the targets, the construction of 1,213 km High Speed Railway 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.
Thanks to ongoing and planned projects, our country is built with high speed and rapid railway networks from east to west and from north to south. Thus, YHTs will redesign the concept of accessibility by providing connections among metropolitan cities and they will create a new regional development corridor not only with a railway line but also with all the dynamics.
Antalya-Eskişehir Rapid Railway Line
Antalya-Burdur/Is¬parta-Afyonkarahisar-Kütahya (Alayunt)-Eskişehir Rapid Railway Line Project has been developed to connect Antalya to İstanbul. The project with 423 km of route length consists of Eskişehir-Kütahya (Alayunt)-Afyonkarahisar (Zafer Airport), Afyonkarahisar-Burdur, Burdur-Antalya sections.
The project works are carried out as three sections. The design studies of Eskişehir-Afyonkarahisar and Burdur-Antalya sections are ongoing. The design studies of Afyonkarahisar-Burdur section will start soon.
Ankara-Sivas High Speed Railway Project
The construction of the Ankara-Sivas High Speed Railway Project, one of the major axes of the railway corridor that links Asian countries on the Asia Minor and Silk Road route, continues. The mentioned line will be integrated into Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway Project with Sivas- Erzincan, Erzincan- Erzurum- Kars Rapid Railway Lines.
The existing Ankara-Sivas Railway Line is 603 km and travel time is 12 hours. With the project, which will shorten the travel time between two cities, it has been aimed to construct a new high speed railway line with double track, electrified, signalled and suitable for a maximum speed of 250 km/h. By this means, the length of the line will be shortened to 198 km from 405 km and the travel time will be reduced from 12 hours to 2 hours.
The construction works of Ankara-Sivas High-Speed Railway Project continues in 5 sections including Kayaş-Elmadağ Section, Elmadağ-Kırıkkale Section, Elmadağ Viaducts, Kırıkkale-Yerköy and Yerköy-Sivas Section.
Gebze- -Halkalı and 3rd Bridge Projects
The design studies of 3rd Airport Railway Connection going across Gebze(Çayırova)-Sabiha Gökçen Airport and Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge are at the last stage.
Antalya-Kayseri Rapid Railway Line
The project will connect Antalya, Konya and Cappadocia regions, that are the tourism centers of our country, to Kayseri as well as the rapid railway network consists of Kayseri-Nevşehir, Nevşehir-Aksaray, Aksaray-Konya, Konya-Manavgat, Manavgat-Alanya, Manavgat-Antalya sections. The design studies for all sections are ongoing.
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.
What could you tell us about the high speed rolling stock purchasing programme?
İsa Apaydın: As it is known, 19 high speed trainsets have been provided for operation on the existing high speed railway lines up to now.
In addition, 106 new high speed trainsets will be supplied to operate on the existing and planned high speed railway lines. Out of these, 10 high speed trains will be financed by an Islamic Development Bank loan.
The rest of the 96 high speed trainsets will be procured in the scope of SIP Model by tender (Industrial Cooperation Program).
– The first 20 high speed trainsets will be produced directly in the facilities of the contractor.
– 60 of these trainsets will be produced through technology transfer and 53% of localisation rate.
– The last 16 trainsets will be produced in a factory to be established in Turkey with a minimum 74% localisation rate through technology transfer within the scope of National Train Project.
İsa Apaydın:By increasing the localisation rate in the Railway Industry, we are making and implementing important decisions on the creation of our own industrial ecosystem and the development of railway subsidiary industry.
Our Affiliated Companies have created a total of 2.72 billion Turkish Lira business volume for the domestic companies from 2003 up to the date. As of today, 1,736 domestic companies support the activities of our Affiliated Companies with 27,300 employees.
Could you give us a few more details about the electrification and signalling programme of the Turkish State railway network, one of the most important of them being the Karabük-Zonguldak railway?
İsa Apaydın:With the railway mobilisation adopted as of 2003, we renewed and modernised the existing lines by constructing High Speed, Rapid and Conventional railway lines.
The length of signalled line increased from 2,505 km to 5,462 km; the length of electrified line increased from 2,082 to 4,350 km when comparing numbers of 2003.
We implement some of the railway modernisation projects with EU grant funds.
One of the projects we have completed in this scope is “Irmak-Karabük-Zonguldak Railway Line Rehabilitation and Signallisation” project. The length of the project is 415 km.
The project, which has been started at a cost of EUR 219.9 million, is the highest budgeted railway project in the area of Turkey-EU Financial Cooperation up to now.
Within the scope of the project passenger platforms were constructed in 141 station and stops. All the platforms of stations and stops were constructed in accordance with the EU standards for the disabled passenger.
We have introduced the European Railway Traffic Management System (ERTMS) Level 1, which is one of the safest systems of the world and compatible with the European Union Traffic Directive, on the conventional line for the first time. Most importantly, 94 level crossings have been equipped with automatic barriers in the line section.
Elena Ilie is talking with…
Director General of Turkish Railways (TCDD)