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Foreign trade is not on rail

Share of railway in foreign trade of Turkey is going down.

The share of railway in export and import of Turkey is halved in last 5 years. After USD 3.5 bn in 2010 and USD 4.4 in 2011, the value of goods carried by rail decreased to USD 2 bn last year.

Share of railway in foreign trade of Turkey

Share of railway in foreign trade of Turkey (000 USD)

The percentage of railway in foreign transport had decreased from 1.2% to 0.6% in the same period.

Year Export Import Total
2010 0.9% 1.3% 1.2%
2011 0.9% 1.3% 1.2%
2012 0.7% 1.0% 0.9%
2013 0.6% 0.7% 0.7%
2014 0.6% 0.5% 0.5%
2015 0.6% 0.6% 0.6%
2016 0.4% 0.7% 0.6%

Most used modal in foreign transport was sea. Goods transported by sea is worth USD 198 bn in 2016, 58% of the whole foreign trade.

Share of transport modes in foreign trade of Turkey (2016)

Share of transport modes in foreign trade of Turkey (2016)

The Ro-Ro+railway solution via Trieste has an important affect in this decline, which is recorded as overland or sea.

Syrian war had also effected which caused closure of Syria-Iraq railway.

End of Samsun-Kavkaz and Derince-Ilychevski rail ferry services is another factor.

Of course, the most important reason is that railway is still behind other solutions in terms of cost, speed and reliability.

The share of railway will continue to decrease this year after Metrans, which has an important share in Turkey-Europe intermodal market, ends its intermodal train service by the end of this month.

Cover Photo: V. ©

1 reply »

  1. It’s ironic that at a time when China is strenuously promoting rail links with Central Asia, Eastern Europe and Western Europe, Turkey’s share of rail-borne exports is dropping! I would have thought that with the Chinese initiative, Turkey’s exports to Central Asia and, beyond that, to China would be growing.

    In the meantime, does anyone out there know if the trains that China dispatches to Europe will use the newly built tunnel under the Straits? Or will the trains be routed over the new bridge?

    As well, does anyone out there know of any railways, railway industry organizations, or construction companies tat build railways — particularly in Asia and Africa — that might need an English language wordsmith like myself for contract writing and editing?


    Phil Fine
    Jerusalem, Israel


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