SÜLEYMAN KARAMAN, Chairman of the Board and DG of Turkish State Railways
With its roots going back 155 years, Turkish State Railways (TCDD) has a long-standing history.
During the Ottoman period, around 8500 km of new line, most of which was constructed by foreign companies, was built. 4000 km of it was within the borders of Turkish National Pact of 1920. Realizing the importance of railways during the Independence War, the Great Leader Atatürk launched a campaign for railway construction. In twenty years between 1926 and 1946, 4 thousand km line, 80% of which were located in harsh geographic conditions, was constructed.
After 1950s, investments in road became important in parallel with the developments across the world. Between 1950 and 2003, only 1.700 km of new line was built.
The year of 2003 became a milestone for our railways. As a consequence of the political and financial support of government, 80 projects were produced in 8 years including the high speed line projects, modernization of the existing lines, and development of advanced railway industry on the basis of being restructured to be a more dynamic institution. Hence, our railways went through a period of great change and progress.
Since 2003, our railways as the prioritized sector among the state economic enterprises have been allocated the highest funds.
Ankara-Eskisehir YHT, our first High Speed Line was commissioned on March 13, 2009 and Ankara-Konya YHT, the second High Speed Line on August 23, 2011. Thanks to the triangle of Eskisehir-Ankara-Konya YHT, the economic, social and cultural life in the surrounding cities
have become more dynamic.
The construction works for the second phase of Ankara-Istanbul High Speed Line Project, Eskisehir-Istanbul and Ankara-Sivas High Speed Lines are going on. When both stages are completed, the travel time between Ankara and Istanbul will be reduced to 3 hours as will the travel time between Ankara and Sivas. With Marmaray Project, which is under construction, two continents, Europe and Asia, will be connected via a seamless railway and it will possible to travel by rail from London to China uninterruptedly.
Kars-Baku-Tbilisi Railway Project is a significant step in the international railway transportation.
We aim at having a share from the freight potential estimated to be 75 billion dollars between Asia and Europe.
In addition, the construction works for Ankara-Izmir and Bursa-Bilecik YHT lines are going on.
Working together with the local administrations, our commuter systems are reaching the metro standards in Istanbul, Izmir and Ankara and we also are in cooperation with the municipalities of other cities.
In freight transportation, we primarily launched the block train operations. These operations provided 58% increase in the transported cargos and accordingly, 170% increase in transportation income compared to 2002.
Besides, we are establishing “Logistics Centers” which integrate all transportation systems. At the first stage, we are founding 16 logistics centers in the significant industrial and commercial points of our country. Thus, we intend to achieve 10 million ton increase in railway transportation.
The railway industry is also improving in our country. Adapazarı High Speed Train Factory with Korea, Erzincan Rail Fastenings Factory with Germany, rail production in Kardemir, one of the long-established enterprises of the Turkish private sector, Çankırı High Speed Train Switch Factory with Austria and locomotive production in TÜLOMSAS with the USA are great examples of our cooperations. Most recently, we are producing electric locomotives in TÜLOMSAS our affiliated company in cooperation with Hyundai Rotem.
In the 10th International Transport Forum, the vision of our country’s transportation system was identified. Highly important decisions for railways were taken and the map of transportation system was drawn. In the context of these decisions, of the total amount of 350 billion dollars to be invested in the transportation sector in 14 years until 2023, 45 billion dollars will be allocated for railways. Within this framework, it is targeted to construct 10 thousand km of new high speed line and 4 thousand km of new conventional line till 2023 (…).
Today, Turkey, the railway sector of which is developing, is getting more involved in the railway investments in the Middle East and neighboring countries and becoming a leading country in the development of railway sector. Railways constitute one of the major agenda topics of our relations with friendly and fellow countries in the region now.