Despite an expectation of opening of Istanbul-Ankara high speed train before elections, last week the Transportation Minister announced it as the end of May.
He declared that the line from Eskisehir to Pendik has been completed, and tests are ongoing. “Piri Reis”, the high speed test train, had started driving tests at the beginning of March. The minister told that a travel with 180 km/h speed is already certified, but service will not start before completing the certificate for 250 km/h, which will be the commercial speed between Ankara and Istanbul.
The line under construction between Eskisehir and Istanbul is 266 km. By the completion of this part, the travel between Ankara and Istanbul, 542 km, will be traveled in 3 hours. There will be 10 stops on the line, Ankara, Polatli, Eskisehir, Bozuyuk, Bilecik, Pamukova, Sapanca, Izmit, Gebze and Pendik. The ridership is expected to be 50k passengers/day and 17 million/year. Thus the share of railways on this route is expected to reach to 78%.
Opening of the line was first declared as 29 October 2013, and several different declarations done after that due to delays on construction.
The minister also declared that hourly departures are planned on the line, but could be every three hours if there’s no sufficient demand. On the other hand, considering the 3 hours of travel time in one direction, it’ll take 8 hours including stops for one set to complete one roundtrip. That means at least 8 sets are needed to organize hourly departures in this line. TCDD has 11 high speed sets in fleet, which will hardly be sufficient for hourly departures in Istanbul-Ankara line in addition to departures from/to Konya. TCDD has ordered for additional 7 high speed sets from Siemens to be completed till 2017.
The budget of Istanbul-Ankara high speed line is totally 8,8 billion TL. 6,28 billion TL has been invested till the end of 2013. 2014’s budget is 0,64 billion TL. The rest of 0,94 billion TL is planned to be invested till 2016.