Rail freight volumes in Turkey had been between 20-30 mn tonnes since 2007 and after reaching to peak of 29 mn tonnes in 2014, had dropped to less than 26 mn tonnes in 2015.
Although having a target of 200 mn tonnes in 2023, rail freight volumes cannot reach to 30 mn to for last 7 years, but had a slight increase until 2014 despite long engineering works and closures. And for the first time in 2015, volumes dropped by 10%.
There were many reasons for 2015 to have better results. The ferry service between Europe and Asia had restarted in 2014. Istanbul (and Europe) was reconnected to eastern regions just after ferry. Thus the rail traffic increased by 40% in 2015 compared with previous year, but this could not prevent the fall in total volumes. Rail freight volume was 25.9 mn tonnes in 2015, 10% less than it was in 2014 (28.7 mn tonnes).
Rail freight volumes dropped in all regions except Marmara. The biggest fall was in Samsun-Sivas-Kars region (4th Region of TCDD). Thas was also because of closure of Samsun-Kalin railway section due to engineering works in the last quarter of 2015.
In 2015, the growth of the rail freight volumes by private wagons, which used to have a steady rise until 2015, had stopped.
Unfortunately, it would be not suprising to see a similar drop in 2016. Samsun-Kalin railway section will continue to be closed during 2016. Due to Baskentray project, east-west loads will have to pass through Konya instead of Ankara which will cost time and money. Since Bozuyuk-Kosekoy section of Istanbul-Ankara high speed train line has not been completed and conventional line is being used by high speed trains, the limited capacity on Istanbul-Bilecik section continues. And finally, the Gaziantep-Mardin/Nusaybin railway, which is kept closed due to security reasons at Syrian border, is not expected to open this year.
It will be not easy to change this trend even in 2017. In general, all reasons affecting 2016 mentioned above are expected to continue in 2017. New projects which may bring new loads to railway such as Nemrut Bay project, Filyos Port connection, Bursa-Bilecik high speed line, either stopped or continues very slowly. New logistic centers have provided better terminal services but cannot succeed in bringing new loads to railway. And the liberalization of railway transportation has not been completed yet, which will make it hard for private companies to bring new customers in 2017.
Cover Photo: Ali Pala ©