Turkey aims to realize the “Restructuring and Strengthening of Turkish Railway Sector” project in 2013

Interview with Süleyman Karaman, General Manager of TCDD

The strategic geographical position allows Turkey to expand its economic activities in both Europe with the European Union, but also in Central Asia and the Caucasus. At the same time, Turkey is an important trade centre. The projects regarding the construction of high speed lines and Marmaray project make the countries on the two continents prefer Turkey for freight and passenger transport between Europe and Asia, which will tilt the balance in favor of railway transport and will surely bring significant progress to the country’s economy. The Government in Ankara declared last year that EUR 11.65 Billion will be invested in the railways by 2020. Apparently, the railway reform is on the right track which is good news for both Turkey, as a country that wants to access the European Union and will have to align to most of the norms already implemented by the Member States, but also for potential investors who want to enter the railway market in Turkey.

RailwayPRO: The Turkish Government and Turkish Railways (TCDD) have announced an ambitious investment programme for railway infrastructure development in Turkey. What are the priorities over the next period and how much are the estimated investments worth?
Süleyman Karaman: In Turkey, railway construction became a state policy again after 50-year negligence and starting as of 2003, investments made in railways have intensified significantly. A demonstration of rendering railway construction a state policy is the investments made in this sector. While the funds allocated for railways were 480 million TL in 2003, they reached 7.030 million TL in 2012 with a 14-time increase. Moreover, the fund for railways will be 7.968 million TL in 2013.
We are proceeding with our works on our main targets such as construction of YHT lines (Turkish high speed train), modernization of our existing system, improvement of advanced railway industry and restructuring of TCDD.
Within the framework of YHT Projects, Ankara-Eskişehir section of Ankara-İstanbul high speed line was commissioned in March 13, 2009 and Ankara-Konya high speed line on August 23, 2011. 1,086 km new line was constructed between 2004 and 2012 and currently 3,434 km of new railway are under construction.
In line with these projects, Eskişehir-İstanbul section of Ankara-İstanbul high speed line is aimed to be put into service on September 30, 2013 together with Marmaray Project which will connect Europe and Asia. Ankara-Sivas high speed line is also under construction. Ankara-Bursa and Ankara-İzmir high speed lines are other high speed line construction projects that are on-going.
We have some other important projects which are proceeding such as renewal of our existing conventional lines and accordingly, improving current geometrical standard of the lines through maintenance and upgrading and modernization of rolling stock fleet.
We attach great importance to improvement of advanced railway industry in cooperation with national and international private sector. High speed train factory in Adapazarı established in cooperation with Korea, rail fastening factory in Erzincan established in cooperation with Germany, rail production at KARDEMİR, one of the most established companies of Turkish private sector, High Speed Railway Turnout Factory in Çankırı established in cooperation with Austria and collaboration with USA for locomotive production at TÜLOMSAŞ (one of the affiliated companies of TCDD) are just a few good examples of our joint works with national and international private sector partners. We have just started electric locomotives production in cooperation with Hyundai Rotem at TÜLOMSAŞ.
Our Administration envisages making an investment of 60 billion TL within a 3-year investment program between 2013 and 2015 for railways.
In addition, some pivotal decisions for further improvement of railways were taken during the 10th International Transport Forum. As per these decisions, 45 billion USD out of 350 billion USD dedicated for infrastructure investments for a 14-year period by 2023 have been allocated for railways. In this scope, 10 thousand high speed railway line and 4 thousand conventional line will be constructed by 2023.
We are also aiming to realize the “Restructuring and Strengthening of Turkish Railway Sector” project in 2013. And it is high time for having a Railway Law. In brief, the railway sector is rendering one of the most dynamic sectors in Turkey.

RailwayPRO: Marmaray project can easily be described as one of the projects of the century in infrastructure construction. How would you describe the importance of this project for consolidating transport connections between Asia and Europe?
Süleyman Karaman: Upon the completion of Ankara-İstanbul high speed line and Kars-Tbilisi- Baku projects, which are two projects integrated with Marmaray Project, it will be possible to have a fast, economic and seamless railway link starting in London and extending to China by connecting Europe and Asia. Marmaray Project will also make significant contributions to public transportation in Istanbul which is a huge metropolitan and provide integration with other transport modes.
With the revival of historic Silk Road by Kars-Tbilisi-Baku railway project which is implemented under cooperation between Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia, so to speak, “Iron Silk Road” will be established. Thanks to this project, direct rail connection between Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan will be provided and accordingly access to Middle Asia and China.
In the first stage, it is envisaged to carry 6.5 million ton freight through Kars-Tbilisi- Baku railway project which will be an important railway corridor between Europe and Asia.

RailwayPRO: The infrastructure sector in Turkey attracts more and more investors who target long-term business opportunities. How would you describe the development of Public Private Partnership projects on railway infrastructure development?
Süleyman Karaman: As the turnarounds of the railway infrastructure investments are slow, these investments cannot be conducted within the Public Private Partnership projects. Thus, the fields of application of such projects are quite limited across the world.

RailwayPRO: What is TCDD’s position with regard to the collaboration with other Black Sea countries for consolidating transport relationships and Turkey’s position in the Eurasian platform?
Süleyman Karaman: TRACECA (Transport Corridor Europe-Caucasus-Asia) is an east-west axis corridor which is shaped and developed for multi-modal transport in order to revitalize the Silk Road.
On 8 September 1998, a multilateral agreement named “Basic Multilateral Agreement on International Transport for Development of the Transport Corridor Europe- the Caucasus – Asia” (MLA) was signed by the Presidents and Heads of Governments of 12 countries such as Turkey, Ukraine, Moldova, Romania and Bulgaria for the development of the Europe-Caucasus-Asia transport corridor. This agreement constitutes the basis for the TRACECA Program.
The studies for logistic centers in Gelemen (Samsun) and Palandöken (Erzurum) on the TRACECA corridor are ongoing.  Within the project for the exploitation of railway-ferry service with railway connection between Russia and Turkey, two participants of TRACECA, via Black Sea, a combined transportation is initialized with a railway-ferry line established between Samsun-Turkey and Kavkaz-Russia ports. By this time, a total of 53,560 ton freight has been carried with 2,036 wagons in 54 train trips.
Through the Silk Storm Block Train Project, the journey time for the block trains between Kazakhstan and Turkey is aimed to be reduced. With the regular trips of the trains and the completion of their trips in the expected period, the railway transportation will become a preferred mode in freight transport between Kazakhstan and Turkey. It is also estimated that there will be significant increases in freight transport by rail between Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey. In addition, the connection to be made by Kazakhstan with China will increase the freight volumes to a significant extent. With the completion of the Marmaray Project and Kars-Tbilisi-Baku Railway Project, a non-stop block train transport can be carried out between China and Europe through Turkey. The freights coming from all along Kazakhstan and from the north of China will arrive in Europe and Middle East by rail through Turkey, and in Africa via seaways through the south of Turkey as well.
About the Constanţa-Derince ferry transportation: The ferry transport between Derince and Constanţa (Romania) has been continuing in order to provide a railway connection between East Europe and Turkey through Black Sea. With this transportation mode, Romania and Turkey are connected with railway plus seaway, and annually 50,000 tons of freight transportation is carried out.
Ilyichevsk -Derince ferry transportation: In Black Sea corridor between Ukraine and Turkey, annually 150,000 tons freight is carried through railway + ferry connections.
RailwayPRO: What measures will TCDD take for strengthening combined transport (road – railway, maritime – railway) in conformity with the international legislation?
Süleyman Karaman: We have given priority to freight transportation projects within railways in an attempt to increase transit transportation means both at national level and between Europe and Asia, and also to develop combined transportation by establishing an uninterrupted main railway corridor on the east-west axis in our country.
The railways are utilized especially in international and transit transports within intermodal transportation as carrying long-distance and large amounts of freights are much more advantageous by rail. In our enterprise, logistic centers have been started to be established and wagons suitable for the combined transportation have been manufactured with the priority given in the block train operations. Certain significant developments have been achieved especially in the railway connections with the Organized Industrial Zones and in container and auto transportation.
Combined transportations (container transportation) with seaway-railway and railway-seaway connections are carried out from Derince, Bandırma, Alsancak, Samsun, İskenderun and Mersin Ports; in addition, combined international transportations with railway-road connections from such establishments as Halkalı, Köseköy, Derince, Bozüyük, Çukurhisar, Ankara, Boğazköprü, Eskişehir, Kayseri, Başpınar, Biçerova, Mersin etc.
The container transportation, which aims to establish cooperation between transportation modes by eliminating the competition between them, has increasingly become an important and indisputable transportation mode in transportation sector. Within that context, the container transportation volume, which was 695,000 tons/year in 2002, was increased to 7,6 million tons/year in 2011, with 11 times of increase in the volume.
Semitrailer transportation it is a kind of rail transportation that semitrailers without hauler are transported by means of special wagons (pocket wagon) designed only for the transportation of road transportation vehicle trailers. This transportation type has so many advantages such as safety, low noise, environment friendliness, energy-saving, convenience at border crossing, convenience at customs, efficient personnel and vehicle usage and efficient capacity.
The first test service of the train to transport semitrailer between Wels (Austria) – Halkalı (İstanbul) was operated on October 9, 2009 from Wels.
As in the case of developed countries, in Turkey auto transportation by rail has also been initiated.
Automotive spare parts transportation is carried out by Cologne (Germany) – Köseköy – Cologne Block Container Train between Turkey and Germany. It has been provided auto transport services between Köseköy – Bucharest (Romania), Tehran – Köseköy as a result of the works carried out between railway administrations, automotive sector and logistics companies.
By above-mentioned transportation, the road transportation costs arising from wheel wear have been decreased. Auto transport also decreases the road maintenance and repair costs arising from damages due to high axle-load highway vehicles and it allows to prevent highway accidents and environmental and noise pollution.

RailwayPRO: What are TCDD’s plans for the near future for the development of port terminals dedicated to freight transport and logistics?
Süleyman Karaman: The works which are complementing each other have been commenced simultaneously with adopting the railway as a state policy. Great progress has been made in the works such as connecting the current railway network to the production centres and ports with an aim to increasing the competitiveness of the railways and having a cheaper transportation.
Operational costs have been decreased as a result of improving port terminal and preventing service leakage, loss of time and labor. We can improve service speed and quality through this system.
With the realization of Phase II Container Terminal of the İzmir Port, an additional dock length of 750 m and 550.000 m2 hinterland will be gained and accordingly, port handling and storage area as well as its revenue will be increased by 3 times.
One of the important activities in addition to passenger and freight transportation is port handling. While the amount of port handling was 41,5 million ton in 2003, it is estimated to handle 55,4 million ton in 2012 with the dynamism of the private sector, with an increase of 34%.
It is expected to provide a significant contribution to passenger and freight transportation in Turkey by increasing the rates of port handling by improving port terminals operated by PPP (Public Private Partnership).
The importance of the logistic centres which have highway, maritime and airway access- where possible- and where storage and transportation services are provided together has been increasing day by day. Our Administration has planned to establish similar facilities in 16 points on different scales. These centres are as follows İstanbul (Halkalı/Yeşilbayır), İzmit (Köseköy), Samsun (Gelemen), Eskişehir (Hasanbey), Kayseri (Boğazköprü), Balıkesir (Gökköy), Mersin (Yenice), Erzurum (Palandöken), Konya (Kayacık), Denizli (Kaklık), Bilecik (Bozöyük), Kahramanmaraş (Türkoğlu), Mardin, Kars, Sivas Logistic Centres.
Samsun (Gelemen), Halkalı and Uşak logistics centers have been put into service; the first phase of the construction works of Denizli (Kaklık), İzmit (Köseköy), Eskişehir (Hasanbey), Kayseri (Boğazköprü) have been completed. The construction works at Eskişehir (Hasanbey), Erzurum (Palandöken) and Balıkesir (Gökköy) logistics centers are proceeding. Studies concerning the other logistics centres are also ongoing.
By the finalization of these logistics centres, Turkish Logistics Sector will gain approximately 40 Billion Dollar and an additional 8,4 million m2 container storage and handling area together with 26 billion tonnes of  transportation.

[ by Elena Ilie ]
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