Tanap Pipe Train

Rail freight rings alarm bells

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%.

Top20 Heaviest Rail Freight Traffic in Turkey

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).

Türkiye'de Yük Taşımacılığı

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.

Özel Vagonlarla Yapılan Taşımalar

Unfortunately, it would be not suprising to see a similar drop in 2016 because of the following reasons:

  • 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.
  • The Gaziantep-Mardin/Nusaybin railway, which is kept closed due to security reasons at Syrian border, is not expected to open this year.
Turkey at 49th in Railway Competitiveness

It will be not easy to change this trend even in 2017, since;

  • 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.
  • 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 ©

Related Articles:
Tariff change for freight passing by Ankara
Utikad: TCDD must focus more on freight
Freight Railroad Services Has Potential in Turkey

4 thoughts on “Rail freight rings alarm bells

  1. This news should come as no surprise. TCDD could hardly do more to alienate its freight customers if it was a deliberate policy to do so. Now they just achieve that by accident. When you consider all the route closures, and the short notice given for each one, what confidence would a freight customer have that this year’s offer from TCDD can be repeated next year, and the year after? Practically none.
    Sadly, this is because of mismanagement of major projects. The first (and often only) option considered is always “We will need to close the railway for x months ….” where x is a large number, but only a small fraction of the eventual real duration of the block.
    This is partly because of the way that the Turkish rail market is organized. TCDD is only incentivized to complete projects for as low a price as possible; no consideration is given to providing continuity of access to transport for passengers nor freight, and no compensation is payable for the withdrawal of those services. So of course TCDD chooses to undertake projects in the way which is cheapest for the construction company – but therefore the most disruptive for the rail users.

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