As Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway opened, travelers now are waiting for Baku train.
Baku train is in the top of Rail Turkey’s frequently asked questions list. Here are the most asked questions:
What’ll be the route of Baku train?
The train will give service between Baku and Ankara. Train departing from Baku will follow Gence-Rust’avi-Tbilisi-Akhalkalaki-Kars-Erzurum-Sivas-Kayseri and arrive to Ankara.
How long will it take?
Baku-Ankara travel will last 38 hours.
Any sleeper on train?
There’s only sleepers (2 seats/beds) and couchettes (4 seats/beds) in the train.
Restaurant car on train?
Yes, there’s a restaurant car in the train with 28 seats.
How is WC usage?
Train has 1 luxary, 2 confort and 6 standart coaches. In luxary wagon, every cabinet as its own shower and WC. In confort wagon, each cabinet pair is sharing shower and WC. In standart wagons, there are 2 WCs and 1 shower in each wagon.
How often will train depart?
Not announced yet. A full roundtrip takes 4 days. There are 3 train sets. Weekly departures may reach to 4.
Any interchange on way?
Though Azerbaijan and Georgia has different rail systems than Turkey, Stadler’s train is designed to overcome this. Train, without any need of interchange or transhipment, will pass from broad gauge to standard gauge at Akhalkalaki.
Is this technology safe?
Yes, this technology is being used for years in Japan, Spain and Russia.
Why train doesn’t arrive to Istanbul?
It’s not clear which conventional trains will depart from Istanbul after Marmaray is completed. However, if Baku train comes to Istanbul, the travel time will increase and there’ll be less departures. Using Istanbul-Ankara HST is the easiest alternative.
When train service starts?
In some websites, it’s written that the train service will start in May 2018. But this is not confirmed and seems not true. Official statements point the end of this year.
Cover Photo: Onur Uysal ©
Doesn’t this route still require a ferry crossing at the Black Sea?
“Why train doesn’t arrive to Istanbul?
It’s not clear which conventional trains will depart from Istanbul after Marmaray is completed. However, if Baku train comes to Istanbul, the travel time will increase and there’ll be less departures. Using Istanbul-Ankara HST is the easiest alternative.”
This is not true for every case. For having a good and fast connection the train must arrive or leave in Ankara on a time where same-day-connections to and from Istanbul are available. And look the departure-time in Ankara for the (suspended) Trans-Asya or the Van-Gölü, they are leaving too early for having a same-day-connection from Istanbul. And if you have to spend one night in a hotel of Ankara for taking the high-speed next day or day before it would be faster and cheaper to make the new train Baku-Istanbul instead of Baku-Ankara.
And we should not forget that this train may reach Ankara from Baku with some hours of delay and bookings for the YHT are only valid for the booked train. So you risk to miss your connection or you have to spend many hours in Ankara – for nothing!
No, to change in Ankara to the high-speed is NOT the best and surly not the fastest option for travellers to Istanbul!
Hi Andreas, I didn’t mean that HST connection to Ankara-Baku train is better or easier than direct departure from Istanbul for travelers. That’ll be the easiest transport solution for Baku passengers who’d like to travel from/to Istanbul.
Yes,but I hope that some long-distance trains (not necessary all of them) will come back to Istanbul and the train to Baku should also connect Istanbul. This is more important than three weekly connections, two are enough. And some of this trains should offer also an overnight travelsolution in sleepers and couchettes between Istanbul and Ankara.
This train should be let to high speed railway between Sivas-Kayaş and Ankara-Sapanca.
Will this be the only passenger train running between Kars en Akhalkalaki or will there be another one ? For example a local train Kars – Akhalkalaki and a Akhalkalaki – Tbilissi or so ? For (georgian) people living/working in eastern Turkey it would be easy to have some local trains as well.
Thank you for all your interesting posts lately ! I enjoy this website very much.
There is not much local traffic flow yet. Thus I don’t expect any local train. Thanks for kind words.
There is no train yet – and there won’t be in the future we can foresee. The entire issue became a sad joke. As far as I know, ADY (the Azeri Railway) did not bother to pay Stadler (the manufacturer of the trainsets) yet. As a result, the trainsets are still in Switzerland (September, 2018).
After – if ever ADY decides to pay – they will be transferred to Baku, the service would have some chances to start.
The entire thing so far is a major shame.
In addition to that, the deployment of SUW-2000 wheelsets (designed for both US/Euro and Russian gauge) is a risk factor.
SUW-2000 was deployed on Ukrainian-Polish border – and after a while was withdrawn due safety concerns. The automatic gauge-changer on the Belarus-Polish border is designed for Russian Talgo-style trains. It works – but it’s from Talgo and different (Talgo) cars are needed.
Arguably, the comfort of Talgo is less, what it’s major consumers in Kazakhstan and Russia do expect,
We cannot blame ADY that they did chose SUW-2000 instead of Talgo technology, but Talgo is far ahead regarding the proven reliability.
All this is of course moot without ADY paying for the trainsets first.
Correcting the author regarding sleeping car / couchette confusion.
Something corresponding to “couchette” is the “section sleeper”, used to be popular in the States, still running in Canada, China, VietNam, DPRK, Mongolia and all over ex-Soviet Union.
The Russian name of the “section sleeper” is “platskart”.
A “sleeping car” (in ex-soviet and above markets) may have 4, 3, 2 or 1 berth.
The most typical economy sleeper has 4 berths and requires a 2nd class through ticket as a base tariff.
In countries of Far East (except Mongolia), see above the 4 berth sleeper is already a “de-luxe” thing and does require a 1st class through ticket.
Regarding the looks, the author is correct: these look quite similar to the 4-berth couchettes. But like in Iran, there is somewhat more space in each cabin and there is a tendency to have a posh decoration.
Regardless, today, in September of 2018 the reality of through trains running between Ankara and Baku is still very low. The reason seem to be the sheer incompetence on the Azeri side.
Hi George. Thank you for the interesting and detailed information. Do you know if all railcars are already manufactured, or how many of them are ready by now?
btw, I wrote to Stadler about this issue, but could not get any official reply yet..
Do you expect the Ankara-Baku train will start running in 2022, like other international trains?
No guess. Just heard that Sofia and Transasia will start soon.