840 - BMW train - OnurRailway Companies

7 obstacles new train operators have to overcome

As the first year of liberalization ended, there are only two private operators established.

Though one year passed after free access started in Turkey, only two train operators started operation. Moreover, the routes these two operators started operation, are limited with traditional rail loads. In other words, the fast growth after liberalization has not started yet.

The competition between operators for new clients, new loads attracted to rail from trucks, new players in market have not seen yet.

Here are some obstacles for the new entries to market:

Narrow market

The current rail traction market is less than € 200 mn. This means, a train operator carrying even all rail freight in Turkey can hardly enter “top 10 logistic companies list” in Turkey.

Competition of trucks

Trucks are easy to find and offers good prices in long distances. Rail, on the other hand, struggles with high costs of trucks for first/last mile.

Labour market

Train operators have to find experienced staff, especially loco drivers. Only supply is TCDD Tasimacilik, and it’s not easy to transfer them.

Freight wagons

New freight wagons either have to be ordered from producers or rented from TCDD Tasimacilik. Almost no chance to import until 2020. Production of new designs will need time in Turkey and orders need to be big to be competitive. TCDD Tasimacilik rents its wagons, but trendy wagons such as Shimms (steel coil), pocket (trailer), car carriers are not available.

Loco supply

Renting from TCDD Tasimacilik surely eased and speeded up the enterance of two train operators. But TCDD Tasimacilik’s fleet can hardly meet its needs, thus further renting may not be possible. Nobody is willing to invest in diesel locos, since 100% electrification is the target. But diesel is currently a must for many freight routes. And loco investment is so big even for leading logistics companies in such an unfamiliar market. Private loco fleet companies have not started yet.

Insurance policies

Train operators have to have policies with high assurance amounts.  But insurance companies have not much idea about what’s the real risk in Turkey. It is not easy to find insurance policies.


Many logistics companies are unfamiliar with calculations about fuel consumption, maintanance, labour costs, insurance fees. Most of them have no idea about railway transportation.

Cover Photo: Onur Uysal ©


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