I could not forget my travels of totally 2300 km on rail in Turkey last month. I have a number of suggestions which, I believe, will help improving this experience. Here is my wish list for passenger trains:
It’s not easy to buy tickets from stations. Even in average size station, long queues can be seen before departures. I think the main reason is the ticketing system in the offices which is hard to use and slow. Requesting mobile number which can be useful in internet sales makes things even harder in ticket offices (this was mentioned before by Jeff Hawken in Rail Turkey). Most of the ticket machines “biletmatik”, which can be seen in almost all stations, are out of order. Better taken out if not possible to use..
TCDD is giving tickets for each train separately for connected trains. If you need to change trains 2 times, you need to buy 3 separate tickets. This causes too much time lost in ticket offices. Furthermore, you may get an answer of “no ticket” even if there’s a solution with connected trains. Ticket system should show alternative ways for requested route (in ticket offices and in internet) and one ticket showing all connected trains must be enough.
Honestly, I really enjoyed also the slow trains which stop in every station. It’s cheerful to focus on travel rather than reaching to destination. On the other hand, almost all of the railway in Turkey is one line where you may wait for a coming train for an unknown period in the middle of nowhere. Permanent solution is of course two lines in railway. But choosing big stations as crossing points and announcing how much to wait there may turn waiting into fun.
1-2 trains a day in many of the routes decrease the usage of trains. Getting off in a station, having a fast city tour and continue with next train is not possible in many of the routes. Without an additional infrastructure investment, only with additional rolling stock and staff, increasing the frequencies will be possible. Besides, most of the trains I travel were very full, which means new passengers for additional trains are already ready.
Transfer to City Center
Especially in Europe and Far East, train stations are already at the center of the cities. Unfortunately, stations in Turkey are not close to attraction points of cities anymore. Of course, that can mainly be overcome by municipalities. But city services, which are organized even by the smallest bus companies, can also be organized by TCDD.
Photo: Onur Uysal