764 - Iron ore trains - Jeff

Big challange for Turkish railways


Baku-Tblisi-Kars has been commissioned. The first train has already departed. Second is on way.

The short-term target is 6.5 million tonnes of transport annually.

But could rail infrastructure of Turkey meet such a traffic? Let’s do some calculations:

6.5 millions of tonnes means, 18 000 tonnes every day. The traffic is not expected to be well-balanced, but even if it were, it would mean 10-12 trains in each direction. One full train passing almost every hour.

This would be hard, but not impossible, especially between Kars and Divrigi, where there isn’t any significant freight traffic. The volume on this stretch was about 200k tonnes in 2016.

However, starting with Divrigi, there runs Turkey’s busiest rail traffic. Last year, 3 million tonnes of freight was carried on this stretch. 12 trains are running everyday to/from Divrigi. Together with 6.5 million tonnes of Baku-Tblisi-Kars, the traffic will reach to 36 trains every day. One full train every 40 minutes on a single line.

The biggest traffic currently transported on Turkish rail network is 5.2 millons of tonnes (figures of 2016), on single track line between Fevzipaşa and Narlı. If targets accomplished on Baku-Tblisi-Kars railway, Turkish rail network has to overcome almost double of it in some sections.

If everything goes well as planned, we’ll have to start talking on constructing double-track lines, using optimization programs and running longer and heavier trains very soon.

Cover Photo: Jeff Hawken ©

Written by Onur Uysal

Railway consultant. Owner of RT Media & Consultancy. Founder and editor of Rail Turkey.

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