Turkey is ready to mobilize its investments in rail infrastructure, and new lines have been put on the country’s agenda, including those that will directly link industrial production areas to commercial ports, the minister said on Thursday. Infrastructure and Transport Adil Karaismailoğlu.
He said they are planning their rail networks based on feasibility studies and that the country will be a logistics superpower when setting up the infrastructure with the new investments.
Karaismailoğlu spoke with the editorial office of the Anadolu Agency (AA) about the country’s current railway infrastructure, plans and new investments.
He said the country has achieved a lot over the past 18 years in the area of transportation.
“We have increased the length of the divided roads from 6,000 kilometers to 28,000 kilometers,” said Karaismailoğlu, adding that in 2002 there were only 50 kilometers (31 miles) of tunnels in Turkey. “We currently have a 600 kilometer tunnel and a 200 kilometer tunnel network under construction,” he said.
“Our road network has now reached a certain level,” said Karaismailoğlu, adding that it was therefore time to focus on railways.
Karaismailoğlu said that Turkey had nearly 9,000 kilometers of railroad tracks in the 1930s. However, from the 1940s to 2002, there was no real investment in rail infrastructure. He said that had changed under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as the country stepped up efforts to increase rail capacity in recent years.
Commenting on the modernized Samsun-Sivas line, which has just been inaugurated with a ceremony attended by Erdoğan, Karaismailoğlu said that the line connects the Black Sea to the central region of Anatolia and then to the Mediterranean. The 431 kilometer rail line, which is now operating at increased capacity, will also contribute to the trade corridor between Northern Europe and the Middle East.
Turkey sits on a corridor that connects Beijing to London, Karaismailoğlu said.
Railway for industrialists
The minister said that new rail lines have been included in the country’s future plans, and some of the most important are those that will link the Organized Industrial Zones (OIZs) to ports. These railways will provide rapid and cost-effective transport for industrial goods on their way to commercial ports, making Turkish manufacturers a direct part of world trade.
The minister said their plans include industrial production areas near the port of Iskenderun in Hatay province (southern Turkey), the port of Mersin in the southern Mersin province, the port of Filyos in the province. north of Zonguldak and Alsancak port and Çandarlı port which will soon be opened in western Izmir.
“We aim to reduce logistics costs from 50% to less than 10%,” he added.
Stating that they aim to increase the annual amount of 30 million tons of freight carried by rail to 45 million tons by 2023 and 150 million tons by 2028, Karaismailoğlu noted that there are investment works related to the Divriği-Kars line, which is one of the main parts of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars line.
“We aim to increase the capacity from 5 million tonnes to 20 million tonnes,” he said.
There are also plans for a line that will cross Nakhichevan following recent developments in Azerbaijan, the minister said.
Karaismailoğlu said work is continuing on high-speed train lines as well as freight transport.
“The Mersin-Adana-Gaziantep line is very important” for the southeastern province of Gaziantep to have a connection with the sea, he said.
Karaismailoğlu said that currently 70% of customers prefer rail transport between the capital Ankara and the central province of Konya because it is both comfortable and cost effective.
There is also the Istanbul-Ankara express train project, he said, for which plans have been temporarily put on hold due to the coronavirus outbreak.
He noted that Turkey Railway Machines Industry Railway Technology Inc. (TÜdemsaŞ), Turkey Locomotive and Engine Industry Inc. (TÜLOMSAŞ) and Turkey Wagon Industry AŞ (TÜVASAŞ) have jointly created a new brand, Turkey Rail System Tools Industries Inc. (TÜRASAŞ) ), and that the production of high-speed trains will be carried out under this brand.
Commenting on space initiatives, Karaismailoğlu said the Türksat 5A satellite will be launched into space by mid-December and the Türksat 5B is scheduled for June 2021.
“With 5B, the internet speed will increase to 56 gigabytes,” he said.
“The 6A satellite, which is the most important example of developments in national and national technologies, is under construction,” and the country will launch it into space by early 2022, Karaismailoğlu said. “Thus, we will use our own technologies in space,” he added.