Although trains become popular and competetive in some routes with high speed trains, passengers prefering trains fall in Turkey.
In 2016, almost 22 million passengers traveled by train, excluding suburban trains. This is the lowest number in last 20 years. In 2012, this was less than 20 million, due to suspension of all Istanbul trains because of Marmaray works.
High speed trains, which had started in 2009 and reached Istanbul in 2014, carried about 6 million passengers in 2016. But total number of train passengers is less than previous year. Here below are the number of passengers of conventional and high speed trains in 2000s:
As seen in graph, decline is because of the decline in conventional trains (train sets, express services, sleepers, couchettes). This number is now 10 million less than it was 20 years ago. In 2016, less than 15 million people traveled by conventional trains, which is the worst figure for decades.
Here below are some factors causing this decline:
- Cheap and fast planes attrack long-distance passengers.
- State roads are better now, which ends up with faster bus transportation than trains in most cases.
- Many trains suspended or cancelled (Fatih, Mavi, Ankara, 4 Eylul, Cukurova, Samsun-Sivas, Samsun-Amasya, Uzunkopru, Konya-Aksehir).
- Trains used to be the first choice for some passengers with high quality restaurants, sleepers, very comfortable seats. Now it’s different especially for Istanbul-Ankara passengers.
- It’s now hard to access train in Istanbul. Before it was possible to get on train from Haydarpasa, Kadikoy, Bostanci, Kartal. Closest point is now Pendik until end of 2018.
- City centers change while developing, and stations started to lose their central position. Public transport connections are generally weak.
The only good news about passenger trains is the new HST sets added to fleet in 2016. 6 new sets delivered last year, and number of HST sets reached to 19. This additional capacity may attract 2-3 million more passengers this year.
Cover Photo: Onur Uysal ©