964 - Marmaray tüneliRail Freight

Has Marmaray helped rail freight?


Figures publicized about Marmaray which started also hosting freight trains between Asian and European side of Turkey.

By March 2019, Marmaray project is completed allowing transportation between Europe and Asia. Public transport began first, where freight trains waited for some precautions and more tests.

Only solution to cross Bosphorus by rail

As Derince-Tekirdağ rail ferry service ended in 2020 March, Marmaray had become the only solution for rail transportation between European and Asian side of Turkey.

Marmaray project was commissioned fully in March 2019 with motto “uninterrupted connection between Asia and Europe”. A few international trains passed through Marmaray in 2019, however greatest portion of intercontinental rail freight continued using Tekirdag-Derince ferry, which was the only solution since 2013.

The preparations were ready by early 2020, thus contract with ferry company was terminated after 7 years. Marmaray has become the only solution for crossing Bosphorus except for trains carrying dangerous and oversize goods.

Container operators focus on Asian side

Shifting to Marmaray means a great save from ferry cost for TCDD Taşımacılık. However, for railway client, especially for container operators, this shift means reliability where departure and arrival times are now definite and delays are exceptions.

This development caused most of the container operators, which have used only terminals in European side, to focus on Asian side. In summer 2020, 3 routes from Asian side were tested. At least one of them is expected to become regular.

Intercontinental freight will be doubled

In 2017-2018, 90k tons of load were carried on ferry between two continents. In 2019, though Marmaray usage for ferry was very limited, the total volume reached to 120k tons. The graph of volumes in last 4 years is as follows:

Rail freight between Europe and Asia (ton)

In 2020’s first 8 months, where ferry was used in first 2 months and only Marmaray was used since April, total volume of intercontinental rail freight has reached to 162k tons. If similar volumes achieved in rest of the year, total volume passing through Marmaray will most probably reach to 240k tons. This means doubling 2019 and tripling 2018.

Cover photo: Onur Uysal ©

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