As electrification extends, need for electric loco highly increases in Turkish railways.
TCDD has a target of 100% electrification of all rail network in Turkey. Though we are far from the target, a lot has been done for electrification of busy lines. Electrified lines increased by 30% in last 3 years. As of end of 2019, one third of conventional lines were electrified. This will reach to 40% as the ongoing works are completed.
No change in fleet for 4 years
However nothing changed in fleet during these years. TCDD Tasimacilik has not added any new loco to fleet since 2016. In 2019, tractions is done with about 100 electric and 350 diesel locos.
Currently the only electric loco that can be manufactured in Turkey is E68000, which is produced in Tulomsas under license of Hyundai. There are 80 E68000s in Turkey, more than half of all electric loco fleet. These new-generation 5-10 years old locos had problems on steep gradients while carrying heavy trains. The problems were told to be overcome with software upgrades, but not any other E68000 was ordered since that time.
64 new electric locos planned
In fact, TCDD Taşımacılık has an approved investment plan of 64 new electric locos. The budget for locos is totally about €170mn. €2.7mn is allocated this year from that amount for the first time.
There are also two private operators in Turkey, which started operations in late 2017. One of them, Omsan, carries over 3 mn tons annually on fully electrified Sivas-İskenderun line. Company is doing all these traction with 15 Toshiba electric locos rented from TCDD Taşımacılık until this time.
Hybrid locos on way
The other private operator, Körfez Ulaştırma, is hauling trains between three refineries of Tüpraş, İzmit, Kırıkkale and Batman. The annual volume, about 2 mn tons, is carried with diesel locos owned or rented by the company. However, electrification works are almost completed in most frequently used route, which pushed company for new solutions. Finally Körfez Ulaştırma agreed with Stadler for 7 Euro Dual, which have both electric and diesel electric engines.
As TCDD Taşımacılık is under pressure of profitabilty after liberalization, company is trying to increase its loads and decrease the expenses. The biggest expense item in railways is energy cost. Energy cost of electric locos are far less compared to diesel locos. Furthermore, electric locos have longer economic life and less maintanance cost. Thus, company is trying to use electric locos whenever possible.
All locos shifted to freight
Suspension of passenger trains during pandemic helped TCDD Taşımacılık this year. Many E68000s that were used for passenger trains are now being used for freight trains.
However, if the this trend for freight continues and passenger traffic restarts, need for electric locos may reach to an intolerable point. If not solved, we may see diesel locos on electrified lines more frequently.
Cover photo: Steve Hobson ©
Categories: Rolling Stock