Rail Freight

Freight wagons go like hot cakes

As freight transport by rail has grown fast, it has become much harder to meet the demand for empty wagons.

Last year,  the total rail freight has reached to 35 million tons, 30 mn of which was done by TCDD Tasimacilik. Though the passenger trains restarted after a long suspension due to pandemic and TCDD Tasimacilik had to allocate some of the locos for them, the increase in rail freight continues. Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, Mr Karaismailoglu had stated that rail freight volume will reach to 36.5 millon tons this year.

As rail freight volumes had started to increase in last 3 years after a very long stillness, a new problem is now being faced: Wagon supply.

The biggest supplier is currently TCDD Tasimacilik with 12k active freight wagons, trying to meet the increasing demand all over Turkey. Wagons are requested to load as soon as they arrived at stations, even before they are unloaded.

Wagon supply has become a problem also all over the world. Especially in Europe, there’s a shift from road to rail, which causes supply problems for wagons. Companies have to wait long also for renting wagons.

Specificly in Turkey, the investment by private companies for new wagons has remained limited until now. Though two private operators are on operation for 4 years, one has not done any investment for rolling stock, where other is focused on locomotive*.

TCDD Tasimacilik seems more active in wagon investment compared to private operators. However despite new investemnt, 75% of its fleet is more than 20 years old and only 71% of wagons are active and can be used in transport.

Since demand is increasing and supply is not, operators had some steps to use their fleet more efficiently. In last 4 years, the fleet of TCDD Tasimacilik has shrinked by 15% where rail freight volume has increased by 10%. Two private operators, which took over the loads used to be carried by state operator, are overcoming more volumes with less wagons.

The recently announced target of 50 million tons of rail freight in 2023 has taken attention of industry. However the target seems to be not reachable before investment for new locos and wagons are done.

* As this article published, Korfez Ulastirma had informed that investment for 75 tank wagons and 35 platform wagons have been done in 2021.

Cover photo: Onur Uysal ©


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