As is usual in Turkey, everything is arranged to suit the engineers building the project, and no thought whatsoever is given to the effect on the passengers and freight customers. TCDD project planning is a complete shambles. As if destroying the railways into Istanbul for several years is not enough, now they plan to isolate Ankara too.I wonder if Konya to Karaman will reopen before Ankara closes?
Another slight problem with the timetable information on the TCDD website as regards regional trains is that, for example, if I wanted to check the times of trains from Basmane to Torbali, I would need to look at 5 different files to get the whole picture: Basmane – Denizli. Basmane – Nazilli; Basmane – Soke; Basmane – Tire and Basmane – Odemis. If I want to make the short journey from Aydin to Nazilli, I still need to check 4 files. From the point of view of a traveller, I don’t see the point in listing the Basmane – Nazilli services separately from Basmane – Denizli, although it maybe suits administrators.
What has been achieved with the IZBAN system is impressive, but the system is plagued by a problem common to many urban systems: long journeys (Aliağı to Alsancak, for example) are tedious with the many stops. This reminds me of what it is like travelling from Heathrow Airport to central London on the Piccadilly Line. There needs to be consideration for the provision of express/limited stop services and this will certainly be necessary to encourage tourists to use the IZBAN for places such as Selçuk and Bergama. The IZBAN is also a way to access Foca (combined with ESHOT bus services) but would be more attractive with an express service.
The stated “cost” of running any given passenger service is very susceptible to political interference. That is a general comment, not one specifically aimed at Turkey. So if the aim is to make the infrastructure company “profitable”, then the track access charges will increase, causing fares increases, and making the train operations unprofitable. Conversely, if the imperative is to maintain the level of fares, then the infrastructure company will become unprofitable. The only thing I am certain about is that the existing bloated TCDD Tasimacilik train operation will need to shed vast numbers of its staff in order to become profitable, or to be able to compete with private operators. That could become very unpopular indeed.
Why are there so few passengers on the Sofia/Bucarest-Halkali Istanbul route ? Well, I took the Bucarest Halkali sleeper last month, but only very few people know it exists. The DB or SBB online timetable show all the relations with train changes (3 train changes for the Bucarest Halkali train) but they don’t mention anything about direct carriages (…) – If they would update their website info, or if TCDD would tell them to do, then they would stand a chance to attract more travellers (apart from the rail enthusiasts, the Interrail travellers …)
Also, I honestly think that a comfortable long distance train İstanbul – Budapest (or even Vienna) would attract a decent number of passengers. Now, the connection at Sofia is a disaster and Serbian tracks and trains are, unfortunately, in extremely bad condition. Romanian cars are not that much better and the connection in Bucureşti Nord (or Videle) is just as bad as in Sofia. The horrible connections and cars even put me off, and I’m a very stubborn train traveller. This summer again, I missed my connection at Sofia forcing me to spend a day there.
I would actually argue that even in electric cars, some of the responsibility for energy use lies with the car manufacturer and user. For example, the British government likes to say that it’s reducing carbon emissions, but sometimes the reason is because production has moved to China! In this case, clearly the emissions are still happening and the British government is still partly responsible, but in its reporting it’s able to make itself look more green. Some of TCDD’s energy impact MAY (I say may because I don’t know for certain!) be like this.
I think your report is largely very fair, I just wanted to suggest caution in interpreting the data. For example, because of the possible problems I listed in my last post, I don’t know if we can say for certain that TCDD’s electrification is worth a forest. In the short-term, all their hard work to prepare the railway may have cost a forest. I would also argue that we can’t say the decrease in fuel consumption means 80 million kg of CO2 have been prevented – some, most or all of this CO2 will still have been released, but just not from diesel.
However, I accept that in the long-term this is definitely a good news story that Turkey should be proud of and very important to share so thank you for reporting it.
For diesel locomotives pollution is a definite result. But for electric locomotive, it is dependant on the contributions for various sources feeding into the grid. Out of various sources for electric power the only polluting sources are coal and diesel/ Gas. so if a country is getting say 80% of its power from polluting sources. even then there is a reduction of 20% in pollution levels.
Indian Railways has taken a recent decision to go in for 100% electrification. That means that it will be going to be to be slow in induction of new diesel locomotives. The main reason behind this decision is to help clean up the air. On power generation side there is a simultaneous push for non-polluting technologies. So I see my country going in the right direction.
Have visited many of these places in the last 14 years mostly on overnight sleeper trains
which was fantastic. Trip from Ankara to Kars, Istanbul – Konya, Istanbul – Denizli and Izmir, Adana to Ankara. Al really worth trying. Hope to be able to travel to Baku in future.
Hard to get good info about passenger services in Turkey, especially if one does not speak Turkish (which alas I don’t!) You are doing a terrific job providing this excellent, easy to understand guide to what is available and how to get to places. Many thanks!