Last week, the changes on top management in Ministry of Transport were on the headlines.
The changes are as follows: GM of DHMI (Airports Authority) retired. GM of AYGM (Infrastructure and Investments) and TCDD Tasimacilik changed. GM of TCDD is also considered to be changed, as written on main stream media.
Isa Apaydin and Veysi Kurs has been in top management of TCDD for 15 years. Erol Citak, GM of AYGM, had also worked as GM of Railway Authority in the past.
The new GMs will find very tough topics on the table. Here are they:
All three GMs are involved in this project. Marmaray project, the railway crossing Istanbul from one end to the other will open on 10th of March, just before elections. Any failure will hardly be tolerated, thus is the most critical topic.
New HST lines
The new HST lines under construction are Ankara-Sivas, Ankara-Izmir and Bursa-Osmaneli. Ankara-Sivas will be the first to open. Laying of rails already started. However, there are viaduct construction continues between Ankara and Kirikkale. Opening postponed to 2020, but even that’ll not be easy.
Bursa-Osmaneli had many delays and postpones and will not be easy to complete with current budget cuts.
First phase of Ankara-Izmir HST line, Polatli-Afyon is prioritized. However, the next steps are laying of rail, electrification and signalization, which need huge funding.
After the Pamukova train accident in 2004, there wasn’t any such big accident in railways until last year. Corlu and Ankara train accidents brought back the safety in railways to headlines again. Now, the toughest traffic of Turkey will start in Marmaray.
Freight traffic through Marmaray
Though the suburban trains and HSTs are enough for citizens, Marmaray project involves another topic: The freight traffic through Marmaray lines and tunnel.
Marmaray pass is important for Turkey, which wants some share between Europe-Asia transit traffic. However it’ll not be a easy decision to allow freight trains on such a dense traffic.
Rail transport is liberalized for 2 years in turkey. However liberalization hasn’t resulted with big difference until now. The expectations of high competition similar to air have not come true. Only 2 trains operators started, and they just focused on their own loads. More quality, more variety was expected in freight services. It didn’t happen. Government may decrease subsidies or extend them to cover private companies as well.
The rail freight volume is around 25-26 mn tons for years. In the first year of liberalization, the freight went slightly up, and continued to increase last year as well. However, the share of rail freight is still around 4%, far behind others. This is far behind the 15% of 2023 targets too. Investments are limited, thus TCDD Tasimacilik has to transport more with same staff and fleet.
Dogu Express, undoubtfully, has become the most popular train of Turkey. Tickets are sold out in seconds. The claims about ticketing will be on the table of new top management. The critics are now not only from personel travelers, but also from big tour companies as well.
Another topic is the new conventional lines. 4 Eylul Mavi (Ankara-Malatya), Cukurova Express (Ankara-Adana) ve Goller Express (Izmir-Denizli) are already in plans, but not started yet. Belgrad train lasted very short. Many is looking forward to Baku-Ankara train which was announced to start in 3rd quarter of this year. Other trains that are expected to be considered are Istanbul-Thessaloniki, Ankara-Tehran and overnight trains from Istanbul.
Though there’s not much pressure of the government yet, profitability is an important performance criteria of the TCDD Tasimacilik’s top management. After splitting, TCDD Tasimacilik got rid of the huge infrastructure costs and earnings had reached to 75% of expenses in the first year. Target was 82%. In 2018, an increase is expected, but TCDD Tasimacilik is still far from standing on its own feet. The new ecomic era may increase the pressure for probitability.
Cover photo: Onur Uysal ©
Categories: Railway Companies