The World’s Most Active Railroad Country

Over the next 10 years, Turkey will invest $40 billion on railroads, including high-speed train projects.

Turkey is one of the nations most often mentioned when it comes to railroad investments. From 2003 to 2016, Turkey invested a total $20 billion in railroads.

The nation plans to invest $40 billion on railroads over the next 10 years and plans to double its existing railroad network to 25,000 km (15,534 miles), Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications Minister Binali Yıldırım told participants of the international railroad trade fair Eurasia Rail in Istanbul in March 2016.

The International Union of Railways officials lauded developments in Turkey.

“Our goal is to establish an intercontinental corridor and develop railways,” Jean-Pierre Lobinoux, President of the International Union of Railways said during the same trade fair. “We want to accomplish this using the newest technology. Turkey is the most active country in the region, where all projects are concentrated. We want to thank the Turkish government for this achievement.”

A Connected Country

The Ankara-Istanbul and the Konya-Istanbul high-speed trains have connected. High-speed train routes are planned between Ankara and-Sivas; Sivas-Kars; Ankara-İzmir; and Ankara-Bursa. These lines will form the nucleus of Turkey’s high-speed network, and new lines will be added.

Turkey advance in high-speed railroads has paved the way for local production of rolling stock. Turkey has invited the major producers of trains to invest in the country, which will need 80 high-speed trains.

The Kars-Baku-Tbilisi Railroad is one of the projects that Turkey is giving importance to. The project would allow for an uninterrupted rail line to operate between Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan and the Turkish Republics of Central Asia and help revive the historic Silk Route. With the completion of the Kars-Baku-Tbilisi Railroad, Europe would be connected to China by rail through Marmaray, the submarine rail crossing under the Bosphorus, permitting for rail transport of goods between the two major destinations.

A second high speed rail connection to Asia would be by way of Iran. High speed train routes would be connected from Trabzon on the Turkish Black Sea Coast and the port of Mersin on the Mediterranean to Iran’s Bender Abbas Port. The line would then be linked to Pakistan. This would make the line a major route for the transportation of goods to Asia.

Monacle Magazine recently carried a report on Turkey’s railroad advancement, describing it as a revolution and made it a cover story.

Government targets for railroads by 2023

• Some 3.500 km of new bullet (super high-speed) railroads, 8,500 km of high speed railways and 1.000 km of conventional rail roads are planned, expanding the rail routes by 13.000 km and doubling the total length to 25,000 km (15,534 miles).

• Some 4,400 km of railroad tracks will be renewed.

• The share of rail transportation in overall transportation in Turkey will be increased to 10% for passengers and 15% in cargo carrying.

Here is what Arban Çıtak, general manager for Turkey of France’s giant railroad company Alstom, told us: “We have chosen Turkey as a regional base. We are following many tenders. If we can win some of these, we pledge to invest $100 million in production in Turkey. We can cooperate with the Turkish government, which is planning $40 billion in investments, to develop high-speed and regional trains, metros, and railway signalization. We are waiting impatiently for cooperation and for our continued contribution.”

The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railroad Project

The Baku-Kars-Tbilisi Railroad is much more than a rail line development undertaking. It aims to revive the ancient Silk Road, a caravan route the Far East to Europe over the Indian subcontinent, Central Asia, Iran, the Caucasus, and Anatolia. Merchants once traveled along the long forbidding route bearing spices, silk and other goods on camels to customers in faraway places. The railroad project is a new Silk Road, using state-of-the-art technology to link countries and peoples in the region.

The total length of the railroad will be 862 km (536 miles), of which. 76 km (47 miles) will run in Turkey, 259 km (161 miles) in Georgia and 503 km (313 miles) in Azerbaijan. It is expected to cost $450 million. The project was started jointly by the three countries at the same time in 2008. Eighty percent of the Turkish section has been completed. The project is expected to boost commercial and friendly ties in the region and provide uninterrupted rail lines between Turkey and Azerbaijan.

The first train wagons are expected to start rolling in 2016. During the first stage, some 1 million passengers are expected to use the route and 6.5 million tons of cargo will be carried along. With a logistics center that will be located in Kars in eastern Turkey, the number of passengers using the line is expected to reach 3 million in 15 years. The line will eventually have the potential to transport 15 million to 17 million tons of goods a year.

The High-Speed Railroad Projects

The High-speed railroad projects will connect 15 big cities.

Under this project, the capital Ankara will serve as the hub, and will include the Istanbul-Ankara-Sivas line, the Ankara-Afyonkarahisar-Izmir route and the Ankara-Konya line, which will all serve as the nucleus.

The highway connecting Ankara and Istanbul is about 500 km (311 miles) long. The first phase of the high-speed Ankara-Istanbul rail road project, which aimed to reduce travel time between the two busy metropolises, assure comfort and safety, went on stream in 2009. The High-speed Ankara-Istanbul rail road project was completed in 2014.

Turkey has become the world’s eighth and Europe’s sixth biggest operator of high-speed trains with the opening up of 1.196 km of the high speed railroads. The government aims to bolster Turkey’s high-speed railways to 10.000 km.

The Bullet Train Project

A Bullet Train project that will reduce travel time between Ankara and Istanbul to 1.5 hours is in a project phase. The 414 km railroad would serve as a “Railway Highway”. Feasibility studies have been completed for the project has been completed. The Bullet Train will travel 350 km (217 miles) an hour.

The Bullet Train will be integrated with the rail line that reaches Turkey’s Kapıkule border with Bulgaria and will use the rail crossing on Istanbul’s Third Bosphorus Bridge.

The Bullet Train will cost $5 billion but will cut travel time between Turkey’s capital city Ankara and its biggest metropolis Istanbul to 90 minutes.