The Ankara-Istanbul highspeed rail line, the next stage of the high-speed train project, part of the government's plan for a major overhaul of the country's crumbling railroad infrastructure, will be launched on July 25, bringing the length of high-speed train railways to 1,420 kilometers. High-speed train services are expected to cover more cities by 2023 according to the government's plans.
The services were first introduced on March 13, 2009 between the capital Ankara and the western province of Eskişehir, realizing the country's decades-long ambition with Turkey becoming the eighth country in the world with a high-speed rail service. It was followed by another line between Eskişehir and the central province of Konya, which opened on March 23, 2013. The new train service immediately became a popular means of transit with over 15 million passengers since their launch.
Turkey now aims to reach the goal of 25,000 kilometers of rail lines with 3,500 kilometers high-speed train railways and 8,500 kilometers regular railways by 2023, the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the Republic of Turkey. High-speed rail projects are also underway with a tender being launched for a high-speed train line between Sivas and the eastern province of Erzincan. Construction continues on high-speed rail lines that will connect Konya province to Gaziantep in the southeast through Mersin, Adana and Osmaniye in the south.
All in all, 17 provinces where almost half of Turkey's 76 million residents live will be connected by high-speed trains. Turkey will also acquire seven sets of high-speed trains that can travel 300 kilometers per hour and 106 sets of highspeed trains. The first 20 sets of 106 high-speed trains will be obtained from foreign companies while the remainder will be jointly manufactured in Turkey by foreign and Turkish companies.
Through high-speed trains, the government hopes to boost economic, social and cultural activities and change travel habits. Officials estimate an $824 million (TL 1.75 trillion) contribution to the economy annually from high-speed train services by reducing energy costs, carbon dioxide emissions, costs related to traffic accidents and other factors.
Ankara is at the center of the country's railroad network that will facilitate daily excursions between cities. A 405-kilometer- long high-speed train line between Ankara and central province of Sivas is currently under construction. Construction is also underway on a 105-kilometer high-speed rail line between Bursa to the south of Istanbul and Ankara. Currently, the infrastructure of a part of the railroad is being constructed. A 624-kilometerlong high-speed train line project that will connect Ankara and İzmir in the west is being built in three phases. Infrastructure work is underway on the railway's section between Ankara and Afyon, a western city near İzmir, while the section between Afyon and Uşak will begin construction after a tender later this year. Below are the planned travel times between cities after the launch of the highspeed train lines:
Ankara-Istanbul: 3 hours
Ankara-Bursa: 2 hours 15 minutes
Bursa-Bilecik: 45 minutes
Bursa-Eskişehir: 1 hour 5 minutes
Bursa-Istanbul: 2 hours 15 minutes
Bursa-Konya: 2 hours 40 minutes
Bursa-Sivas: 4 hours 15 minutes
Ankara-Sivas: 2 hours
Istanbul-Sivas: 5 hours
Ankara-İzmir: 3 hours 30 minutes
Ankara-Afyon: 1 hour 30 minutes
Konya-Karaman: 40 minutes
Ankara-Karaman: 2 hours 10 minutes
Istanbul - Karaman: 4 hours