If you are thinking of traveling around Turkey by train, which ticket is best for you? We look at the pros and cons of the different types of ticket on offer.
Interrail passes are only available to residents of Europe. You can buy either a Global pass, covering all the countries which participate in the scheme, or one-country passes. The one-country pass cannot be purchased by residents of the country itself (so I cannot buy an Interrail pass for the UK, for example). Non-Europeans can buy a Eurail pass instead:
Most long-distance trains in Turkey are “Pullman” first class only, so you will need to buy a first class pass. For an adult, fares in Pound Sterling are as follows:
3 days in 1 month £105
4 days in 1 month £129
6 days in 1 month £173
8 days in 1 month £202
Each day can be “stretched” slightly by careful journey planning. If you travel on a direct overnight service which departs after 19:00 and arrives at your destination after 04:00, you can date your pass for the arrival date only, i.e. you only use one day’s travel, not two.
Fares may vary slightly according to where or when you buy the ticket. These fares were taken from the website operated by UK’s National Rail Enquiries:
As the name suggests, this is a flexible pass which covers the railways of the Balkans, namely Bulgaria, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Greece, Montenegro, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, and Turkey. This would be particularly useful if you are including Turkey in part of a wider itinerary, or if you intend traveling overland to / from Turkey.
Information on pricing and availability is contradictory. UK based websites only offer the First Class tickets, and state that the tickets cannot be purchased by residents of the countries listed. Other sources state you can purchase them in the countries listed, but the ticket is only valid for a direct journey to the border of the country in which you purchase the ticket. The TCDD website lists a full range of tickets in both 1st and 2nd class. Adult prices are:
5 days in 1 month : £153
10 days in 1 month : £267
15 days in 1 month : £322
These prices are taken from www.internationalrail.com
“Tren Tur Kart” (Train Tour Card)
TCDD sells its own range of rail passes, known as the “Tren Tur Kart” or “Train Tour Card”.
The Express Train Tour Card is valid for 30 days unlimited travel on all local and regional services and long-distance passenger services in normal seating accommodation.
The “Yatakli” (Sleeper) Train Tour Card also entitles you to free sleeper or couchette accommodation, in addition to the validity of the Express Train Tour Card.
The YHT Train Tour Card is also valid for travel in second class on YHT services, with different prices according to which YHT section is used, but is not valid in sleepers.
Train Tour Cards are not valid on any international services, nor are they valid on the Lake Van train ferry.
Adult prices are:
Express Train Tour Card : TL210 (£60).
YHT Train Tour Card : TL420 (£120). Valid at Ankara – Eskisehir and Ankara – Konya. Extension of YHT services through to Pendik has not been taken into account yet. Tickets are sold only at Eskisehir and Ankara stations.
Sleeper Train Tour Card : TL550 (£158).
Compared to the Interrail one-country passes, the Train Tour Cards offer much better value for money. The biggest drawback is that they are very difficult to purchase. The TCDD website lists 85 stations across the country where these passes are supposed to be sold, but in reality very few of them hold the necessary ticket stock. Even major stations such as Istanbul Sirkeci and Izmir Alsancak are unable or unwilling to issue these tickets. (Izmir Basmane can issue them, but only during office hours). Indeed the list of 85 stations even includes places which don’t have any passenger services(in Turkish language only).
Pay as you go
Of course if you are not planning to travel intensively then purchasing tickets for each individual journey is possible. TCDD’s new online booking system makes this somewhat easier, and fares are comparatively cheap by Western European standards.
Photo: Steve Hobson ©