Two new trains restarted in 2019, Ankara and Goller expresses are welcomed by travellers. However there are disappoinments as well.
Here below are the reasons for happiness first:
Ankara Express, different than it was 7 years ago, has coaches with seats. The fare is slightly less than YHTs and drew interest. Seats are sold out in every train.
About half of the seats of Goller Express was sold in first day. This was two third in train departing from Isparta, which hosted a train for the first time after many years.
Fares are competitive
Ticket fare for one seat in Ankara Express for Ankara-Istanbul is 84 TL. And there are discounts for children, elder, disabled, groups. Bus fares are between 50-90 TL.
Goller Express’s train fare was announced as 64.5 TL, but revized as 50 TL within the same day. Bus fares are between 50-70 TL.
Online ticket available
There are online train tickets for Istanbul-Ankara for a long time, the HSTs. On the other hand, with Goller Express, online train ticket becomes available for the first time on Izmir-Aydin-Denizli-Isparta route. Trains have been running on Izmir-Aydin-Denizli, but tickets can be bought only at train stations. Goller Express tickets can be bought 15 days prior to departure via internet.
New beginnings for Istanbul and Isparta
Ankara Express was the first overnight train departing from Istanbul after 7 years. For travellers, this is the only train with sleepers from Istanbul.
No train had departed from Isparta Train Station for years. With Goller Express, station has restarted service.
However there are also disappointments. Here are some complaints about trains:
Ankara Express is not “luxary” any more
In the past, Ankara Express was only with sleepers and you were feeling the “special service” from the beginning till the end of travel. Despite the high prices, it was like “business class” of trains. Not any more. Thus, it was very hard to find ticket in the past, but you can find ticket for sleepers even short before departure.
Poor restaurant in one, none in other
Ankara Express used to have a very fancy restaurant in the past. Some passengers are told to take place in restaurant hours before departure. Rich menu, meals in good quality, nice presentation and alchol do not exist any more.
Though travel time is over 8 hours, Goller Express has no dining car.
Slower than bus
Travel time from Ankara to Istanbul with Ankara Express is 9 hours. Buses all run in less than 9 hours, some in 6 hours.
Travel time from Isparta to Izmir with Goller Express is 8.5 hours. Buses run in 5.5-7 hours.
Overnight service with DMUs
Goller Express is the first overnight service in Turkey with DMU. All other overnight services are given with TVS coaches having 2+1 comfortable seats. Furthermore, sleepers, couchettes and dining car could be attached to these coaches.
DMUs are not hauled by a locomotive, engines are under seats, thus have more noise. The seats are smaller and closer, not as comfortable as of TVSs.
Seat reservation confusion
Two wagons of Goller Express needs seat reservation (and allows online ticket) where two others do not need. There’s no clear information displayed in coaches, thus confusion and discussions between passengers is possible.
Train calls at touristic stops after midnight
Goller Express is expressed as second touristic train after Touristic Dogu Express. However train timetable is not very suitable for touristic usage. On train route, there are two important touristic attractions, Ephesus and Pamukkale. However train calls at these stations after midnight. Since train runs during night, it’s not possible to watch around either.
Cover photo: Onur Uysal ©