964 - Marmaray tüneliRail Freight

Is Marmaray ready for freight?


After suburban trains and HSTs, next step for Marmaray project is the freight train traffic via tunnel.

The preparations for freight traffic between Europe and Asia through Marmaray tunnel yet continue.

The freight trains are planned to pass through Marmaray tunnel between 00:00 and 05:00, when neither the suburban nor the high speed trains are running. They will wait at Halkali in European side and at Kosekoy in Asian side. It’s calculated that 4 trains can pass in each direction through this signalized 76-km-long stretch. The travel time from Halkali to Gebze will be about one and a half hour.

Actually, the first train with CIM -Stadler wagons- had already passed through Marmaray tunnel. This was the first official international freight train. Furthermore, TCDD’s own freight wagons are being transported via tunnel during nights when needed.

However authorities are careful about opening the tunnel officially for all freight traffic. Any derailment at Marmaray, especially in the tunnel, will cause deep effects in daily life of Istanbul. Marmaray has already become the main mass transport solution for the city.

Main causes of the derailments are mainly caused by infrastructure and human errors. Good inspection and automation may minimize the derailment risk.

Thus authorities are working on building up such a system for Marmaray. It was stated that freight trains might start in summer, but building up a system may take more time.

Currently all rail traffic between Europe and Asia is using the ferry connection between Tekirdag and Derince. Ferry has not been able to give scheduled service, thus could not be attractive for the container services. Ferry cost is quite high, thus being used less than expected, thus making both TCDDT and the ferry owner unhappy.

Container trains, which until now have worked until Halkali, are expected to cross Marmaray tunnel and reach industrial regions in Asian side of Turkey. It’ll also be possible to reach to Caucasus region via Baku-Tblisi-Kars railway. Another expectation is to have share from China-Europe traffic.

Cover photo: Onur Uysal ©

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