You’re interested in discovering Turkey with your bike using trains for long distances. How possible is that?
You may if you have folding bike
If your bicycle is foldable and can fit into luggage section, answer is yes. All folding bicycles fitting into luggage section are accepted at all HSTs, main lines, regionals and suburban trains.
However the question mark is on “fitting into luggage section”. It’s not possible to put a folding bicycle onto luggage rack over seats in standart coaches (named pulman in Turkey). The only other option is the luggage section in the entarance of wagons (see luggage section). They are all question marks if it can fit, if there’s empty space available, how others will react. And there’s no way to assure this before travel.
Sleepers can offer you enough space, since whole room belongs to you. However, in couchettes, if you are sharing the compartment with others, bringing folding bicycle can be a problem due to limited space.
Nevertheless, based on the remark that “folding bicycles are accepted in trains”, there’s a possibility that train chief allows you to carry our bike on floor in a place that does not disturb other passengers (see Emre Yaman TV).
In suburban trains (Marmaray in Istanbul, Baskentray in Ankara, Izban in Izmir), there’s no question mark. You can cary your folded bike on these trains free of charge.
Of course the biggest question mark about folding bicycles during a discover tour to Turkey is this: There’s no rail connection to many regions like Mediterranean coast, Cappadocia, Black Sea region. Thus you need to cover some long streches on bike. Turkey is quite hilly, thus discovering Turkey on a folding bike would not be so easy.
The only clear thing about folding bike is, if you can carry on train, you don’t have to pay for it.
Painful for non-folding owners
Rules are as follows for non-folding bikes:
- Not allowed on HSTs. No exception.
- Allowed on other trains only if there’s separate luggage wagon/section
- Allowed if train has bike hanger (currently only Ankara Express has one, more is told to be planned)
- Allowed in suburban trains (Marmaray in Istanbul, Baskentray in Ankara, Izban in Izmir) whole day on Sunday and bank holidays and except rush hours (07.00-09.00 ve 16.00-20.00) on other days.
If you can based on above limitations, it’s free of charge.
So to know if you can carry your non-folding bike on a non-high-speed train, you need to know if there’s separate luggage wagon/section on the train. Unfortunately, it’s not written neither on TCDDT website nor on your ticket.
Following information based on personal experiences and obvervations may help*:
- There’s no luggage wagon/section on DMU trains. While buying ticket online, on the page trains are listed, you can click info button and see the train type. If you cannot buy online ticket for a train, there’s almost no possibility of luggage wagon/section.
- Even if online ticket is available, it’s not likely to have luggage wagon/section in trains giving service during daytime.
- Overnight trains (Dogu, Vangolu, Guney Kurtalan, Izmir Mavi, Konya Mavi, 4 Eylul Mavi) most probably have luggage wagon/section. Goller Express is also an overnight train, but is a DMU set, thus has no luggage wagon/section.
Note that even if trains have luggage wagon/section, in case there’s not much space, you can be asked to disassemble wheels and pedals.
What about disassambling?
If above conditions do not cover your case, disassambling wheels and pedals and packing them may be a solution. This is not clearly stated in the TCDDT website, thus shall be managed by train chiefs. For those cases, it would be good to be aware of your rights (TCDDT luggage terms).
However, this solution may be quite hard and boring especially in cases trains are frequently used.
Less possibilty in international trains
There are currently two international trains between Turkey and other countries (as of September 2022): Sofia Express (Istanbul-Sofia) and Bosphor Express (Istanbul-Bucharest).
Bosphor Express is running during summer and service will terminate by the end of this month. Bosphor Express as a couple of wagons coupled by Sofia mExpress between Istanbul-Dimitrovgrad and other train between Dimitrovgrad-Bucharest. No luggage wagon/section, no chance to take non-folding bike. Since there are only couchette wagons with 4 beds in each compartment, even folding bikes will be a problem for other travellers.
Sofia Express has not luggage wagon either. Couchette wagons have similar limitations as mentioned above, but in sleepers, whole compartment is yours. And it’s easy to find some space for folding bike. For non-folding bikes, it’s clearly mentioned that they will not be allowed to trains with no luggage wagon/section. However, it’s not clearly mentioned what is the rule for disassabled bikes. Thus train chief will most probably evaluate according to standard luggage ruls.
Photo: Tauernexpress ©
* There’s no official information about this, thus information is based on personal experiences and observations. Please inform us in case you know or experienced something different, so that we update this part.