Unlike the past years, “Can we get this service in terminal and how much does it cost” will be the most frequently asked question of railway professionals in following days.
Everything used to be easier before. All European container operators were settled in the only well-known terminal, Halkali. The biggest portion of the conventional wagon traffic in European side was also managed again in Halkali.
On the other side of İstanbul -the Asian side-, there was two main international players, Eksper Rail and Omsan. One was focused on Derince with conventional wagons, and other was departing from Kosekoy.
Everything changed in 2012. The European and Asian sides were disconnected first. Then began the closures of Cerkezkoy-Halkali railway. TCDD started work on ferry service between Tekirdag and Derince. Some new terminals like Cerkezkoy and Velimese had been renewed. Now the complete closure of Halkali is planned during summer. And ferry is announced to be starting by May.
So every player is now looking for the alternatives, and already started comparisons of terminals near İstanbul. Here are my Oscars for railway terminals:
Velimese : A small station before Cerkezkoy. There was nothing for freight trains, but TCDD had prepared an open storage area under customs control. Velimese was thought as a secondary terminal for container trains, but with the limited storage and handling capabilities and long distance to PODs, Velimese failed to take any Oscar.
Corlu : A small terminal on the western side of Velimese with a better railway platform mostly used for conventional wagons. Being far away from the customs authority, a short platform only being able to unload a few number of wagons at the same time and again even a longer distance to industrial areas of Turkey, Corlu is far away from taking Oscar.
Çerkezkoy : The strongest terminal after Halkali in European side with the experienced railway staff, close customs office, a shunting machine and now a wider storage area. There are handling and trucking services given by truck union which is more expensive than Halkalı and limited for now. There’s also a private reachstacker service mainly serving to Omsan containers and swapbodies. Although new storage area is not well enough and needs reconstruction, Cerkezkoy manages to get the Oscar of “assistant terminal“.
Kosekoy : The terminal is abandoned for more than a year after the railway with the European side is disconnected as well as the Asian side because of the Marmaray and the High Speed Train constructions. Being determined as one of the main logistic terminals in the 2023 strategy of the government, with the biggest storage area, longest lines for trains, being close to main industrial areas of Turkey, having more liberalized handling services, Kosekoy has surely many advantages. But customs services are weak compared with Halkali, and this prevents Kosekoy getting the Oscar of main-terminal, and should make do with the Oscar of “futuristic terminal“.
Derince : Derince, being one of the few ports with railway connection in Turkey, has of course several advantages compared with any other railway terminal. Availability of sea transportation connections, well working customs office, separate areas for automobiles, containers and bulk loads, well trucking service, strong handling services with standard tariff and being the closest point to main industrial areas of Turkey are the strong parts. Despite weaker warehousing facilities compared with every year Oscar winner Halkali, this year’s “main terminal” Oscar goes to Derince.
Photo: Eksper Rail