Rail Freight

Turkish railways during pandemic: Freight


Though pandemic caused fluctuations in freight, it also caused fast growth.

Though passenger trains had fallen back due to Covid-19 and could not recover back yet, after first months of pandemic, freight side have grown continuously. Both the state operator, TCDD Tasimacilik and the private operators, Omsan Lojistik and Korfez Ulastirma had all managedto increase their volumes in last two years. TCDDC Tasimacilik hit the record high of 33 millions where total rail freight volume has reached to 38 million tons.

Rail freight volumes 2019-2021 (million tons)

Domestic rail transports were stable in 2020 and increased by 10% in 2021. Demand increased more, but operators could not meet them all. On the other hand, increase in international transports is more charming. Volumes carried by export/import trains increased by 35% in 2020 and 24% in 2021. This growth was caused by shift from truck transport to rail as well es TCDD Tasimacilik’s support on international transports.

Rail freight volumes domestic/international 2019-2021 (million tons)

Biggest share in international transports belongs to westbound traffic between Turkey and Europe (about 75%). This traffic grew by 50% between 2019 and 2021. Even a bigger growth was seen in eastbound traffic. In first two years of pandemic, transport via Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway was increased by 200% where via Iran by 100%.

Volumes on international routes 2019-2021 (thousand tons)

The balance between container trains and conventional trains did not change during this time. Share of container trains increased by 2%, reaching to 41%.

Share of container trains 2019-2021

About 60% of freight transport is being done by TCDD locos and wagons. Private wagons have the second biggest share (30%) among all. Private wagons have been the first investment by private companies in rail transport and grew fast in last decade. The growth has almost stopped during pandemic where share did not increase, even decreased a bit. Rest, 13%, is being done by locos of private operators and wagons belong to them.

Rail freight shares by ownership 2019-2021

Cover photo: Eksper ©

Thursday: Turkish railways during pandemic: Rolling stock

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