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Turkish State Railways

Turkish Republic State Railways (Turkish: Türkiye Cumhuriyeti Devlet Demiryollari or TCDD) is the state corporation that operates the public railway system in Turkey. The organization was founded in 1927 to take over the operation of railways that were left within the borders of the Turkish Republic after the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, whose railway network had been run and financed by private corporations. TCDD operates over 8500 kilometres of railway lines and is a member of InterRail.

As the sole train operator in the country, TCDD operates all passenger, freight and suburban railways, including domestic and international departures. Until the opening of the Marmaray tunnel (Bosporus undersea railway tunnel), the country will continue to have two separate railway networks (in Thrace and Anatolia) that are only connected through the Bosporus railway ferry in Istanbul.

International services

European services (from Sirkeci Terminal)
Bosphor Express (Bosfor Ekspresi) 81032 - 4644 - 462, Route: Istanbul, Sirkeci Terminal, Turkey - Kapikule, Turkey - Svilengrad, Bulgaria - Dimitrovgrad, Bulgaria - Rousse, Bulgaria - Bucharest, Romania and back.
Balkan Express (Balkan Ekspresi) 490, Connects in Dimitrovgrad, Bulgaria with Bosphor Express, Route: Dimitrovgrad, Bulgaria - Sofia, Bulgaria - Niš, Serbia - Belgrade, Serbia and back.
Amity Express (Dostluk/?????) 81022 - 445, Route: Istanbul, Sirkeci Terminal, Turkey - Uzunköprü, Turkey - Pythion, Greece - Thessaloniki, Greece and back. This is the night train with sleeping coach.
Istanbul - Thessaloniki Line, IC 90/91, 81712, 82902, Route: Istanbul, Sirkeci Terminal, Turkey - Uzunköprü, Turkey - Pythion, Greece - Alexandroupolis, Greece - Komotini, Greece - Xanthi, Greece - Drama, Greece - Serres, Greece - Kilkis, Greece - Thessaloniki, Greece and back.

Asian (Middle-East) services (from Haydarpasa Terminal)
Trans-Asia Express (Trans-Asya Ekspresi), Route: Istanbul, Haydarpasa Terminal, Turkey - Eskisehir, Turkey - Ankara , Turkey - Kayseri, Turkey - Sivas, Turkey - Malatya, Turkey - Elazig, Turkey - Mus, Turkey - Tatvan, Turkey - Tatvan Trainwharf, Turkey - Van Trainwharf, Turkey - Van, Turkey - Kapiköy, Turkey - Razi, Iran - Tebriz, Iran - Tahran, Iran and back.
Van - Tabriz Line, Route: Van, Turkey - Özalp, Turkey - Kapiköy, Turkey - Razi, Iran - Selmas, Iran - Tabriz, Iran and back.
Tahran - Damascus Line, Route: Tahran, Iran - Tebriz, Iran - Razi, Iran - Kapiköy, Turkey - Van, Turkey - Van Trainwharf, Turkey - Tatvan Trainwharf, Turkey - Mus, Turkey - Elazig, Turkey - Malatya, Turkey - Fevzipasa, Turkey - Islahiye, Turkey - Meydanekbez, Turkey - Aleppo, Syria - Damascus, Syria and back.
Taurus Express (Toros Ekspresi), Route: Istanbul, Haydarpasa Terminal, Turkey - Eskisehir (Enveriye), Turkey - Kütahya, Turkey - Afyon, Turkey - Konya, Turkey - Adana, Turkey - Fevzipasa, Turkey - Islahiye, Turkey - Meydanekbez, Turkey - Aleppo, Syria - Damascus, Syria and back.
Gaziantep - Baghdad, temporarily suspended since the 13th March 2003, Route: Gaziantep, Turkey - Karkamis, Turkey - Akçakale, Turkey - Ceylanpinar, Turkey - senyurt, Turkey - Nusaybin, Turkey - Al Qamishli, Syria - El-Yaribieh, Iraq - Rabia, Iraq - Mosul, Iraq - Baghdad, Iraq

There are four independent commuter train services in Turkey, two in Istanbul, one in Ankara and one in Izmir, operated by TCDD. All four services operate using either E8000 and/or E14000 electric multiple units. The systems operate at up to quarter hour headway, though they are not particularly well integrated into each cities remaining urban rail systems.


Ottoman railways

Sirkeci Terminal on the European side of Istanbul was opened in 1890 as the terminus of the Orient Express
Haydarpasa Terminal on the Anatolian side of Istanbul was opened in 1908 as the terminus of the Istanbul-Baghdad and Istanbul-Damascus-Medina railways
19th century Basmane Train Station, izmir
The history of Turkish Railways dates back to 1856. The first railway line in Turkey was the 130 km izmir - Aydin line, on which a British Company was appointed. The choice of this particular spot was not random. The izmir - Aydin track was built because of its high commercial potential. Another reason was that this particular area had raw materials that were necessary for British industry. Also this area was important for controlling the Middle East, and at that time of the Ottoman Empire after the English were given the first license, France and Germany began to build up different areas where they exercised their power. Those countries tried to deliver the goods that were necessary for their industries, that they bought from the Ottoman Empire, as fast as possible to the seaports. The railways were built to be as efficient as possible, and were strategically placed, for example being within around 20 km of mines, etc. So the railways were actually placed according to the politics of those foreign countries.

Between the years 1856 - 1922 the following tracks were built in the realm of the Ottoman Empire:

Rumeli Railways 2383 km standard gauge
Rousse - Varna, 223 km, completed in 1866 by a British company; connected the Danube River to the Black Sea
Anatolia - Baghdad Railways 2424 km standard gauge, (Baghdad Railway)
izmir - Kasaba and its extensions 695 km standard gauge
izmir - Aydin and its branches 610 km standard gauge
Damascus - Hama and its extensions 498 km narrow and standard gauge
Jaffa - Jerusalem 86 km standard gauge
Bursa - Mudanya 42 km narrow gauge track
Ankara - Yahsihan 80 km narrow gauge
Damascus - Medina 1300 km narrow gauge, (Hejaz railway)
Total 9,919 km

In this case after the Republic was declared in Turkey, only 4000 km of the railway tracks that were built by foreign companies were left within the national borders. To be more precise, the young Turkish Republic inherited from the Ottoman Empire 2,282 km standard gauge lines and 70 km narrow gauge lines owned by foreign companies and 1,378 km standard gauge lines owned and operated by the former Ottoman Empire.

1923 - 1950: The railway period
Before the Republic was announced the railway tracks were build for the benefit of the foreign countries, but after the formation of the Republic in Turkey the railway tracks were built for the good of the Republic. This can be clearly seen of the industrialization plans released between 1932 and 1936 which were based on iron and coal etc. The cheapest and most efficient way to transport those goods was to build railways. In those years the financial assets of transportation were transferred to railways.

In those years of shortage, the construction of railways continued on high-speed. During the Second World War the constructions slowed down. 3,578 km of the tracks that were built between 1923 and 1950, 3,208 km were completed before 1940.

At those times the railways were included in the National Economy procedures. The aim of constructing railways were stated as:

To connect potential production centers with the natural resources.
To connect production and consumer centers especially with seaports, and facilitate communications with rural areas.
To connect commercially undeveloped areas, in order to speed up economic progress across the country. Through this policy 1927 Kayseri, 1930 Sivas, 1931 Malatya, 1933 Nigde, 1934 Elazig, 1935 Diyarbakir and 1939 Erzurum were connected to the railway network.
To enhance national security, therefore creating a comprehensive communication network within the country with railways.
To reach those targets the railway politics were lead in two stages:

Despite the financial problems, the railways that were owned by foreign companies were bought and nationalized, a part of it was transferred with agreements.
Since most of the railways were concentrated in the West of Turkey, the aim was to connect the central and Eastern areas with trade centres and coasts. At this period the newly built main routes were: Ankara - Kayseri - Sivas, Sivas - Erzurum (the Caucasus route), Samsun - Kalin (the Sivas route), Irmak - Filyos (the Zonguldak coal route), Adana - Fevzipasa - Diyarbakir (the copper route), Sivas - Çetinkaya (the iron route). Before the Republic 70% of the routes were to the west of Ankara - Konya, after the Republic 78.6% were constructed in the east so that a balance of 46% to 54% was reached.
Between 1935 and 1945 the railways were joined. Those joinings created cycles in the railways which for example shortened the distance between Ankara - Diyarbakir from 1,324 km to 1,116 km.

1950 and after: the Golden Road period
The road system that was left from the Ottoman Empire, consisted of 13,885 km ruined surface roads, and 4.450 km stabilized roads, which totaled 18,335 km and 94 bridges. The road systems was seen until 1950 as a system to aid the railways. But instead of strengthening the rail network, the automobile roads were extended because of the Marshall plan.

After 1960 even though there were many targets that aimed at the extension of the railroads, most of the financial assets were transferred into automobile roads. Because of these politics, between the years 1950 and 1980 an average of 30 km of railroads were constructed.

In the mid 1980s in Turkey a mobilization was started to build Autobahns, the Autobahns project was the third largest project after the Southeastern Anatolia Project and tourism projects. Because of those projects, until the mid 1990s about USD 2 billion were invested. In these years no investments were made to railroads, and no projects were initiated. Most of the railways (most of them more than 50 years old) were left to their own fate.

In Turkey goods are carried 94% on roads, and only 4% are carried on railroads. The share of goods transportation in Turkey by trains deceased in 50 years by 60%.

Turkey has chosen to electrify at the conventional 25 kV 50 Hz AC. The first lines electrified were the Istanbul suburban lines on the European side, from Sirkeci to Soguksu on December 4, 1955, and at the same time the E8000 electrical multiple units were taken into use. The Asian side suburban lines from Haydarpasa to Gebze were electrified in 1969, while the Ankara suburban trains were electrified in 1972, on the line from Sincan to Kayas.

On February 6, 1977 the track from Gebze to Adapazari were made double track and electrified, allowing the first main line operation of electric trains in Turkey. The line from Arifiye outside Adapazari to Eskisehir were further electrified in 1989 and in 1993 to Sincan, allowing electric train passage from Istanbul to Ankara. In 1994 the European line from Istanbul to Edirne, Kapikule and the Bulgarian border were also electrified. The same year the line from Divrigi to iskenderun in Eastern Turkey was also electrified, though this line is not connected to the rest of the electrified network. In 2006 the Izmir suburban system was also electrified.

Tracks constructed before the Republic

Still in use
Route Opening Length (m)
izmir-Aydin Railroad
sirinyer - Buca 1860 2,452
izmir - Sütlaç

Torbali - Tire 1883 47,541
Gaziemir - Seydiköy 1886 1,088
Alasehir - Usak 1887 117,810
Çatal - Ödemis (sehir) 1888 26,452
Goncali - Denizli 1889 9,430
Sütlaç - Çivril 1889 30,224
Ortaklar - Söke 1890 22,012
Sütlaç - Egirdir 1912 113,795
izmir-Turgutlu (Kasaba) Railroad
Basmane - Menemen

Halkapinar - Bornova 1865 4,878
Menemen - Manisa - Turgutlu 1865 61,500
Turgutlu - Alasehir 1875 75,790
Usak - Afyon 1890 134,946
Manisa - Kirkagaç 1890 80,853
Kirkagaç – Bandirma 1912 195,244
Eastern Railroad
Sirkeci - Yenikapi

Yenikapi - Florya 1871 16,372
Florya - Hadimköy 1872 30,325
Hadimköy - Çatalca 1873 19,610
Çatalca - Hudut 1873 209,899
Karaagaç - Hudut 1873 7,137
Mandira - Kirklareli 1912 45,594
Anatolia Railroad
Haydarpasa - Feneryolu

Feneryolu - Pendik 1872 21,162
Pendik - Gebze 1873 19,681
Gebze - izmit 1873 47,096
izmit - Büyükderbent 1890 18,312
Büyükderbent - Mekece 1891 71,709
Mekece-Vezirhan 1891 32,831
Vezirhan - inönü 1892 65,980
inönü - Agapinar 1892 55,823
Agapinar - Yalinli 1892 54,954
Yalinli - Sazilar 1892 61,902
Sazilar - Beylikköprü 1892 14,317
Beylikköprü - Ankara 1892 109,516
Eskisehir - Kütahya 1894 76,984
Alayunt - Çögürler 1895 19,631
Çögürler - Afyon 1895 74,615
Afyon - Aksehir 1895 98,128
Aksehir - Ilgin 1896 57,641
Ilgin - Konya 1896 116,796
Arifiye - Adapazari 1899 8,491
Baghdad Railroad
Konya - Bulgurlu

Bulgurlu - Ulukisla 1911 38,733
Ulukisla - Durak 1912 90,469
Durak - Yenice 1912 17,915
Southern Railroad
Fevzipasa - Meydaniekbez

Border - Çobanköy - Nusaybin 1917 382,106
Derbesiye - Mardin 1917 24,340
Toprakkale - iskenderun 1912 59,220
Mersin-Tarsus-Adana Railroad
Mersin - Yenice 1882 43,209
Yenice - Adana (City) 1886 23,949
Sarikamis-Kars-Border Railroad
Sarikamis - Kars - Border
(broad line, can be converted to normal line) 1913
Before the Republic Main Routes  3,714,280
Before the Republic Secondary Routes  844,995
Before the Republic Total  4,558,995

Scrapped narrow-gauge railways
Track Length (m)
Mudanya – Bursa 41,110

Ilica - Palamutluk 28,391
Samsun - Çarsamba 39,465
Maden - Sarikamis 231,940
Total 340,906

Projects under construction

Marmaray Project
For more details on this topic, see Marmaray.
The Marmaray project is a shared-rail underground tunnel system which will connect the rail lines in the European and Asian sides of Istanbul under the Bosporus in Istanbul. It will thereby actually connect the European rail networks to the Middle Eastern and Asian rail networks. In addition, the tunnel will also have an important role in intracity transport, forming an east-west rail system line for the massively populated Istanbul metropolitan area. It is projected to relieve public transportation problems while increasing the percentage of the use of rail systems in public transportation from 3,6% to 27,7%. Such an increase would put Istanbul third in the world with regard to the use of public transportation, behind Tokyo (60%) and New York (31%).

Turkish State Railways network: High-speed rail tracks under construction and in plan
The first ten TCDD CAF high-speed train sets purchased from CAF of Spain
Inauguration ceremony of the EUROTEM (TÜVASAs-ROTEM) factory in Adapazari, Turkey, which will licence build the HSR-350x trains that can reach a maximum speed of 352.4 km/h
High-Speed Rail Projects
Main article: High-speed rail in Turkey

Istanbul - Ankara High-Speed Track
The first high-speed railway will connect Ankara via Eskisehir to Istanbul. With this project, a trip from Istanbul to Ankara will take only about 3 hours at a maximum speed of 250 km/h. Trains for this section have been ordered from Spanish CAF.

Ankara - Konya
This new railway, that will dramatically shorten the travel time between Ankara and Konya to 70 minutes, will connect to the Istanbul-Ankara Line in Polatli. The same type of CAF trains will be used on this line.

Kars - Tblisi - Baku Railway
The foundation for the Kars-Tblisi-Baku Railway project has been laid on the 24th July 2008 in Kars in attendance of the President of the Turkish Republic Abdullah Gül, the President of Georgia Mihail Saakasvili and the President of the Republic of Azerbaidjan Ilhami Aliyev. The Railway project is expected to carry 1 million passengers, 6.5 million tons of freight in its initial phase. On short term it is predicted that 3 million passengers and 18 million tons of freight will be carried on the line.

Future Possibilities
Ankara - Afyon - Usak - izmir line (joining to the Ankara - Konya line in 25 km south of Polatli)
Ankara - Yozgat - Sivas line
Ankara - Kayseri line (joining to the Ankara - Yozgat - Sivas line in sefaatli)
Istanbul-Bursa / Ankara - Bursa line (joining to the Istanbul - Ankara line in Osmaneli)
Sivas - Erzincan - Erzurum - Kars line
Eskisehir - Antalya line
Konya - Mersin ( - Adana) line
istanbul - Kapikule line (directing Sofia at Bulgarian border)
Lake Van bypass

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