Rail Freight

Freight railroad services has potential in Turkey

Almost 29 million tons a year are moved by rail in Turkey today.

The original of this article “Türkei – Güterverkehr mit Potenzial” was published at the German Privatbahn Magazin Issue 02/2015.

With investments in tracks, the building of additional fifteen logistics terminals and new freight rolling stock this figure could reach, in the near future, well over 40 t/y. With the economic strength of the Turkish industry and growing market volume a figure of 200 tons a year are feasible, compared to the statistics German and Polish railroad freight market (no. 1 and 2 in central Europe).

Population Mio 81 38 77
Surface area qkm 348.000 312.000 783.000
Railroad network km 42000 20000 24000
Freight rail traffic Mio t 600 240 40+
* figures for 2023

Some facts of today’s situation in the railroad freight market make it difficult to start expansion:

  • Industry has almost no rail connections
  • Many ports are not yet properly connected
  • Rail logistic terminals without connection to the highways
  • Warehouse buildings are too small on the rail terminals
  • For upgrading the existing terminals, warehouses and track lines they are closed for several month

But looking forward, figures are promising. Turkey will reach 2015 the position of the third largest car manufacturer in Europe; the economic growth is still above average. Till 2023 the trade volume will reach 500 billion US-Dollars, what is a threefold. The investments on new high speed lines will be open during the night hours for fast freight connections and will improve the transit potential considerably.

Of big importance are the through connections to Central Europe. Today most of the traffic goes through the port of Trieste/Italy and then by sea to Turkey or on land routes by trucks. European companies as DB Schenker Rail and Rail Cargo Austria are increasing connections almost every month to Turkey through Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania and reach within four days the terminals in Turkey on the European side. Cerkezköy and Tekirdag are today the main destinations. To forward freight to the Asian side trucks or ships are used until the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge (the third Bosporus Bridge), and the Marmaray connection with a third track open before 2020 eventually.

Also heavy investments in rail freight terminals are made but the development of a working supply chain needs more time. Visiting the Hasanbey Terminal near Eskişehir, opened autumn of 2014, shows the obstacles. The industry zone is still farmland, a direct connection to the highway doesn’t exist yet and warehouses are not yet built. Just a small local street connects the terminal with downtown Eskişehir. Therefore the 625.000 m2 terminal was more occupied with stored rail cars.

But in the end all investments in tracks, terminals, warehouses, rolling stock, port connections and growing experience by local logistic companies will make Turkey in the next 10 to 15 years a “supply chain powerhouse”, connecting Near and Middle East with Europe and supports the local industry to get even more competitive in the international market. 2023 will be an important milestone in this development for Turkey.

by Peider Trippi, Switzerland ©
Photo: p.trippi-services ©


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