Disappointing Railway Projects in Turkey, Illustration: Rail Turkey

Great Openings, Deep Disappointments in Railway

In 2004, Omsan Lojistik, a leading logistic company in Turkey declared a big railway investment with 200 wagons, in cooperation with Transfesa [1] [2]. The project started with 4-5 trains per week based on Ford loads in southbound and exports of different companies in northbound. Although the joint venture company, Omfesa, is still keeping the project “alive”, but currently running 1 train/week is far from the targets of the project.

In 2005, Veva Logistic was founded as a joint venture company of STVA (a subsidary of SNCF) and VEGA Transport, focused on finished vehicle transportation on rail [3]. The company invested in railway equipments, 73 wagons, and carried thousands of Ford and Fiat cars to and from Europe. And then stopped after a few years. Wagons parked without any activity in Kosekoy for years.

In 2005, Turkey Container Shuttle was introduced to link Germany to Turkey with intermodal system [4]. Railog was the owner of the shuttle, and Schenker Arkas was the partner in Turkey. The Shuttle could not live long, ended with leaving deep impacts on project owners.

In 2009, Intercontainer-Interfrigo SA (ICF) launched its service to Turkey starting from Cologne, stopping in Wien and Sopron with 3 trains per week [5]. The service run well, at least regular, even increasing the number of trains and became the most frequent departed railway operator between Turkey and Europe. But had faced with problems in 2010 causing even blockage. Then the traffic and the staff was acquired by Interferryboats (IFB) by the end of 2010, which is now the current operator of the trains [6]. Project is now again on the table. Kuehne Nagel is evaluating further cooperation possibilities which started with the traction.

In 2009, DB Schenker announced an important project about a new multimodal logistics center at Kosekoy in coorperation with Arkas [7]. Both the biggest wagon fleet owner Argu, a subsidary of Arkas, and logistic forwarder company Schenker Arkas, joint venture company of DB Schenker and Arkas, had plans to use that terminal in their own projects. After 4 years of announcement, the construction has not started yet.

In 2011, Inci Lojistik had unveiled the “sea highway”, the multimodal system with vessel and train from Izmir [8]. Started with big dreams, a big ceremony, in cooperation with Van Dieren. The project was ended even before the first anniversary.

In 2012 Borusan had announced the new intermodal train [9]. Borusan Train was organized with European operatör Hupac [10]. Unluckily, project faced with the closures as soon as started, and had to use a border terminal at the beginning. The project could not increase the frequency more than 1 train per week for more than a year. And then the traffic stopped in 2013 summer.

Among all these disappointments, there are still some courageous starts in Turkey this year: Bosphorus Shuttle and Balo Train.

Bosphorus Shuttle was announced in 2013 summer, by DB Schenker [11]. Project is a mixed train with containers and conventionals. The plan is to start with 3 trains per week starting as of September 2013, probably in cooperation with Omfesa train. The service is announced to be faster with DB traction completely from Germany to Kapikule and will be a competetive transit time if realized. Train is told to depart from Halkali. Since Halkali is still closed, and Schenker needs Halkali Terminal for conventionals, the train is probably awaiting opening of Halkali.

First BALO Train departed in the first week of September from Manisa with a big ceremony. The project began to be discussed a long time ago, in 2006, and discussions and preparations took 7 year [12]. The first train was a big success in terms of transit time, and reached to Germany in a record-time of 4 days [13]. Project is supposed to start with 2 trains per week, and would reach to 5 trains per week in 2014. Due to those aggressive targets, project is under focus of all raillway professionals and Turkish exporters as well. By the end of first 3 weeks, the project cannot fulfil its targets yet.

[1] Interview with General Manager of Omsan, Mr Ertik (in Turkish), Hurriyet
[2] News about Transfesa’s new investment, WorldCargoNews
[3] News in Vega website after 100th block train
[4] News in ICIS website
[5] News about ICF’s new service in WorldCargoNews
[6] Details about IFB’s new service
[7] Details about intermodal terminal in Kosekoy
[8] News of opening ceremony of new intermodal line of İnci lojistik from Manisa to Europe via Trieste (in Turkish)
[9] News about new multimodal line of Borusan (in Turkish)
[10] Details about the Project in Hupac’s website
[11] News about new train in DB’s website
[12] News about the details of Project in WowTurkey
[13] News about first train of Balo in website of Manisa Chamber of Commerce and Industry

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