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Turkey storms ahead with developments and investments

Posted: 6 April 2011 | Süleyman Karaman, Director General and Chairman of the Board, Turkish State Railways (TCDD) | No comments yet

When the worldwide and European Union transportation policies of the last 30-years are analysed, it will be observed that some radical changes have taken place elevating railways to a prioritised position so that the share of railways in the transportation sector increases and a balance between the transportation modes is acquired. In this respect, some effective measures have been taken oriented towards improving the shares of passenger railways and freight transportation to render it competitive with other transportation modes.

Within this framework, some fundamental changes were made to the transportation policies of Turkey and a significant amount of resources was allocated to make railways the ‘priority’ sector.

When the worldwide and European Union transportation policies of the last 30-years are analysed, it will be observed that some radical changes have taken place elevating railways to a prioritised position so that the share of railways in the transportation sector increases and a balance between the transportation modes is acquired. In this respect, some effective measures have been taken oriented towards improving the shares of passenger railways and freight transportation to render it competitive with other transportation modes.Within this framework, some fundamental changes were made to the transportation policies of Turkey and a significant amount of resources was allocated to make railways the ‘priority’ sector.

When the worldwide and European Union transportation policies of the last 30-years are analysed, it will be observed that some radical changes have taken place elevating railways to a prioritised position so that the share of railways in the transportation sector increases and a balance between the transportation modes is acquired. In this respect, some effective measures have been taken oriented towards improving the shares of passenger railways and freight transportation to render it competitive with other transportation modes.

Within this framework, some fundamental changes were made to the transportation policies of Turkey and a significant amount of resources was allocated to make railways the ‘priority’ sector.

In line with the aforementioned develop – ments, in order to comprehend the changes experienced in the railways between 2003 and 2011, it seems important to analyse Turkish Railways’ 154 year-old history.

The first section of railway to be constructed in our country was launched between İzmir and Aydın in 1856. The length of the railways inherited from the Ottoman Empire was 4,136km within the borders set in the National Pact. Railways experienced its golden age during the reign of Great Leader Atatürk, the leader of our Independence War and the founder of the Modern Republic of Turkey. Atatürk initiated a railway campaign saying: “railways are a weapon of a country more important than cannons and rifles,” and believed that economic, social and cultural development of the Republic would be achieved through railways. In line with this belief, railway construction proceeded at a great pace between 1923 and 1950, seeing the construction of 3,764km of new line – 80% of which was constructed in the eastern part of the country where geographical conditions were rough. In the 1950s, the automobile industry came to the forefront of society, making investments in road construction predominate. Within this context, construction and investments in railways experienced a substantial decrease between 1951 and 2002. In this period, only 945km of new railway was constructed, and as such, the share of railways in passenger and freight transportation gradually decreased. As of 2002, however, railway investments have regained impetus. While the length of the railway network in 2002 was only 10,984km for conventional lines, it has now reached 12,026km for high-speed plus conventional lines.

Major developments from 2002 to the present day

The year 2002 was a milestone for Turkish Railways. Radical changes in Turkey’s trans – portation policy were seen and huge amounts of funding were allocated for railways which had previously been ignored.

Thanks to the allocation of approximately 7 million USD to TCDD for the period 2003–2010, it was possible to set ambitious targets – such as the introduction of a high-speed train network, the rehabilitation of the existing lines and the improvement of an advanced railway industry – all rendering TCDD a more effective and efficient enterprise through an opportunity to restructure TCDD. Thus, projects have been developed and put into practice without any delay.

 One of the priorities determined for the railways was the creation of a core high-speed line network, with Ankara as the ‘hub’, formed by the corridors of İstanbul–Ankara–Sivas, Ankara–Afyon–İzmir and Ankara–Konya. Within this scope, the first project was the Ankara–İstanbul High-Speed Line Project. The major aims of this project were to decrease the travel time between Ankara and İstanbul and to generally provide a faster, more comfortable and safer journey experience. Construction work soon began and on 13 March 2009, the first phase of the project – the 206km Ankara–Eskişehir section – commenced operations. The construction works on Eskişehir–Köseköy line section, the second phase of the Project, are proceeding at a fast pace. The geographical conditions on this 191km section are among the roughest across the country. To give an idea, there are 33 tunnels on a line of 55km and 22 viaducts on a line of 15km. Construction of the Köseköy–Gebze section, the section providing the connection between the Marmaray Project and the Ankara–İstanbul High-Speed Line Project, will begin soon. When completed (estimated for 2013) it aims to carry 17 million passengers per annum. Once the Ankara–İstanbul High-Speed Line Project (including the construction of a signalled double track with speeds capable of up to 250km/h) is completed, the travel time between Ankara and İstanbul will decrease from 7 to just 3 hours.

Another notable project to provide a link for the Ankara–İstanbul High-Speed Line Project to Europe is the Marmaray Project. This project aims to connect Gebze and Halkalı by a seamless, modern and high-capacity suburban railway system. The project includes the rehabilitation of the suburban railway system of İstanbul and construction works for the İstanbul Strait Tube Tunnel Railway Crossing. The total length of the railway system is 76km, with 1.4km as an immersed tube tunnel, 12.2km approaching tunnels and approximately 63km surface subway line to be rehabilitated. The works to be implemented cover the construction of three new underground stations and the renewal of 37 stations rendering them modern stations. In addition, the present double-track railway line will be tripled; high-capacity suburban trains will be operated on double-track between Asia and Europe and the third line will be utilised by the intercity passenger and freight trains. The tube tunnel will effectively establish the connection of Turkey with the Trans-European Network, providing a seamless link between Asia and Europe.

The Marmaray Project will not only positively affect daily traffic in İstanbul, it will also have a pivotal role in the development of the city and region. With construction works initiated in 2004, it is envisaged that the project will be finished in 2013.

Another completed significant HSL project is the Ankara–Konya High-Speed Line Project. The purpose behind this project is for shorter journey times between Konya and İstanbul as well as Ankara. The project is currently conducting test drives on the 212km line following completion of the construction works initiated in April 2006. Once the Ankara–Konya and Ankara–İstanbul HSL projects are concluded, the travel time between Ankara and Konya, which is currently 10 hours and 30 minutes, will be reduced to just 1 hour and 15 minutes, and travel time between İstanbul and Konya, which is currently 12 hours 25 minutes, will decrease to 3 hours 50 minutes. The line is expected to be commissioned in the first half of 2011.

The Ankara–Sivas HSL Project is another project which has been developed with the purpose of establishing the high-speed railway line axle on the east-west corridor of Turkey. Construction works for the project have commenced. The project, including the construction of a high-standard, electrified and signalled 461km new line, will reduce the existing east-west corridor to 141km and the travel time from 12 to about 3 hours. The infrastructure works for the 287km Yerköy–Sivas section, the foundation of which was laid on 14 March 2009 and planned as the first stage of the project, are currently ongoing. The construc – tion of the 174km Ankara–Yerköy section, the second phase of the project, will be started following the completion of the as-built projects.

Within the framework of the high-speed line construction campaign, the Bursa–Bilecik HSL project has been developed. This has been done with a view to providing a railway connection to Bursa, which is an important tourism and trade centre of Turkey, and connecting it to Ankara and İstanbul by Ankara. The preliminary qualification tender for the Bursa–Yenişehir section of 85km, the first phase of this project, has been released and evaluations are ongoing.

Moreover, a HSL project has been developed for İzmir with the objective of shortening travel times between Ankara and İzmir. This project has been included in the investment plan for 2011 and it is expected to go out to tender during this year.

For the maintenance of the aforementioned HSLs, it is planned to procure state-of-theart HSL technology maintenance vehicles. By 2012, 22 vehicles in total (in six lots) will have been procured by the fund secured from the European Development Bank for the maintenance, repair and control of HSLs.

Twelve high-speed train sets which would be operated on the newly-built HSLs have been procured. They are currently running on the Ankara–Eskişehir HSL. High-speed train sets which are formed by six coaches and have a capacity for 419 people are capable of speeds up to 250km/h. These high-speed train sets have been put into service since 13 March 2009. The coaches are divided in two classes; business and 1st class. The seats are positioned as 2+1 in the business class coaches and 2+2 in the 1st class coaches. Passengers can find integrated TFT screens, air-conditioning, train tracing announcements and music and visual broadcasting systems in the coaches. There are also special areas for disabled passengers in the 1st class coaches.

In addition, works to establish maintenance and repair units where high-speed train sets are serviced, are also under way. It is planned to construct a maintenance workshop for the repair and maintenance of high-speed trains.

In order to meet the increased passenger demand which has emerged since the commissioning of high-speed lines, and to increase customer satisfaction, the Ankara High-Speed Train Station Project has been developed. The project will be implemented by a PPP (Public Private Partnership) model. The idea behind this project is to have a structure befitting Ankara, the capital of Turkey, to improve the prestige and sustainability of our Ministry and TCDD. This station will not only meet all passenger requirements, but will also be a new attraction centre in Ankara with its shopping centre, cafeteria, offices and hotel. The tender for the construction of the station has been released and the evaluations are proceeding.

Spontaneously with the implementation of HSL projects, the renewal of the existing lines gains importance. In line with this, over 5,000km of line was renewed and maintained between 2002 and 2010 and 60 kg/m rails were utilised in the renewal of the lines for the first time. High-technology track renewal vehicles are procured for both conventional and high-speed lines repair and maintenance works. In addition, opportunities exist for the private sector to be involved, consequently improving the dynamism of the private sector in railways and decreasing track renewal costs by 23%.

Alongside the ongoing track renewal works on the conventional lines, some important projects to install signalling, electrification and telecommunication systems have been developed to increase the line capability and reduce operational costs. The construction works of Boğazköprü–Ulukışla–Yenice, Mersin–Yenice and Adana–Toprakkale signalling and telecommunication projects are ongoing and construction works will soon be initiated for those projects, such as the Irmak–Zonguldak signalling and telecommunication project, the Pehlivanköy–Uzunköprü–Hudut signalling, electrification and telecommunication project, the Eskişehir–Kütahya–Balıkesir signalling, electrification and telecommunication project, and the Bandırma–Balıkesir–Manisa– Menemen signalling, electrification and telecommunication project.

With the intent to render Turkey a logistical centre in Europe and the Middle East, the Logistic Centres Project has been implemented. It is aimed to integrate logistic centres which are considered as the heart of modern freight transportation with other transportation modes and to improve the combined transportation. The logistic centers of which establishment works were started in 2007 are İstanbul, Kocaeli, Eskişehir, Balıkesir, Kayseri, Samsun, Mersin, Erzurum, Konya, Bilecik, Kahramanmaraş, Mardin, Sivas, Kars. The logistic centers in Samsun (Gelemen), Denizli (Kaklık) and İzmit (Köseköy) have been commissioned and the first stage of construction works for the centers in Eskişehir (Hasanbey) and Kayseri (Boğazköprü) have been completed. The second phase construction works for Eskişehir (Hasanbey) and Kayseri (Boğazköprü) will be initiated soon and works in Erzurum (Palandöken) and Balıkesir (Gökköy) will also be started. The projects for other logistic centers are being developed. The logistic centers include special areas for loading and unloading and storage of the containers, duty-paid areas, customer offices, car parks, banks, restaurants, hotels, maintenance and repair and washing facilities, fuel stations, storehouses, train composition, acceptance and dispatching tracks.

In addition to the aforementioned revolutionary railway construction projects, with the intent to empower TCDD’s rolling stock fleet, TÜLOMSAŞ, one of the affiliates of TCDD, manufactured 89 diesel mainline locomotives between 2003 and 2009 under GM license and by a local contribution of 51%. All of the 32 suburban train sets (EMU) to be operated on suburban lines were received by the end of 2009 and put into operation. Apart from those, 12 DMUs have been procured to be used in short distance intercity passenger transportation. The finance of this project has been secured by the European Investment Bank. In order to renew a worn-out rolling stock fleet aiming to fulfill increased freight demands, it has been planned to procure 80 electrical mainline locomotives. The contract for the production of these locomotives has been signed with Hyundai Rotem, a Korean company and the owner of the best offer in the tender.

In line with the purpose of empowering TCDD’s rolling stock fleet used in passenger transportations, 155 coaches were produced at our Affiliates in Eskişehir and Sivas between 2003 and 2009. In this context, taking into account the customer demands and technological developments, 4,520 freight wagons were produced between 2003 and 2010 in order to increase the railways share in freight transportation.

Investment activities planned from 2011 to 2035

The 10th Transportation Forum was held in İstanbul between 27 September and 1 October 2009. The major aim of this forum was to identify the visions in 2023, the 100th Anniversary of the Establishment of the Republic of Turkey.

During the 10th Transportation Forum, developments in the Turkish Railway Sector experienced from the Republic period until today were examined in chronological order. The current status was analysed; summarising the state of ongoing projects and projects to be implemented in the near future. Taking into account the current status of Turkey, strategic projects and possible environmental impacts, the revolutionary visions for 2013 and 2035 which will fulfill the requirements of 21st century have been set.

The main purposes of these visions are to reduce service losses and increase service quality by creating a competitive environment through upgrading the railway infrastructure with track renewals, new line constructions, electrification, signalling and tele commu – nication projects. It is intended, as a result of these activities, to increase the share of the railway sector. The visions cover the expansion of both high-speed lines and conventional lines across the country. In this context, it is aimed to increase the total railway network up to 25,536km by constructing 10,546km HSL and 3,985km conventional lines until 2023 and to reach a total railway network of 27,972km by constructing 12,026km HSL and 4,941km conventional lines until 2035. Operations of the suburban lines will be handed over to the local authorities in Ankara and İzmir. According to these visions, the restructuring of Turkish Railways will be finalised by 2023 and the share of the private sector will be increased up to 50% in railway operations. Moreover, the rolling stock fleet will be improved and since Turkey is currently in the negotiation process with EU, the new rolling stock will be manufactured according to EN and TSI standards besides UIC standards. Thus, it will be ensured that the Turkish railway sub-industry is introduced in the global railway sector and it is an efficient player. Another item included in Vision 2023 is the establishment of a Railway Institute within the scope of the Ministry of Transport, Universities or TUBITAK (The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey) and an internationally accredited railway testing and certification centre.

Conclusion

The railway sector has always been the leading sector for development in national and international areas, transportation as well as cultural and social lives. Railways are the most significant heritage not just for the railway people or the decision-makers of railway constructions; but also for the Republic.

To hand over this heritage to the next generation is among the most important missions of the railway people. We construct new lines with this faith and build high-speed lines with this enthusiaism. The railway industry has improved with this expertise and logistic centers are established with the awareness of their indispensibility for railways. On one hand the participation of railways in social responsibility projects is ensured, and on the other hand, the railways consciousness is spread. All these are achieved through participation from all sectors over a period of time, of which the railways are the state policy again and has the largest share of appropriation among all kinds of modes. For all the projects planned and actualised, the removal of missing links and further strengthening of Turkey’s position as a bridge between Europe, Middle East and Asia are especially taken into account.

In the future, all necessary projects and actions will be implemented pertinaciously and with determination strengthened by the force of the support given to the railways, in order that Turkish Railways reaches the level it deserves.

About the Author

Süleyman Karaman graduated from the Mechanical Engineering Faculty of Istanbul Technical University (ITU) in 1978. In 1981 he took his master degree at the same university and he received a Mechanical Engineer MSc title with high degree. Following this, Mr. Karaman carried out some studies concerning farming machinery, took up a short-term military post and worked for an automotive company. Then in 1994 he was appointed as Deputy Director General of IETT (Istanbul Public Transport Authority) where he took part in many projects – one of which was the implementation of Smart Tickets. Mr. Karaman became Director General and Chairman of the Board of Turkish State Railways (TCDD) in January 2003.

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