Turkey will open two new high-speed rail lines next year, as it continues to expand its high-speed rail network.
Turkey's first high-speed train line opened in 2014, between Istanbul's Pendik district and the capital Ankara.
The Pendik-Halkalı extension will be opened in the first quarter of 2019, Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Cahit Turhan said Friday.
"Passengers will be able to continue their journey without getting off at Pendik," he said, adding that this line will also be available for the Konya-Istanbul high-speed line.
He said that the Ankara-based high-speed rail network currently serves on Ankara-Istanbul, Ankara-Konya and Konya-Eskişehir-Istanbul lines, along which around 40 percent of Turkey's population resides.
Turhan announced that the Ankara-Sivas high-speed train line will come into operation by the end of next year. He said that the layouts have been initiated, the infrastructure works were completed to a great extent and superstructure works are currently in progress. "Works on tunnels and viaducts are also moving at a great pace," he added.
The Turkish government earlier this year announced its plans to invest 39 billion euros in the railway network over the next five years. The country has already invested more than 18.5 billion euros in the last 15 years.
The minister added that works on the Ankara-İzmir high-speed train project were going ahead at full speed. "We are planning to commission the Ankara-Uşak line in 2020, while the section extending to western Turkey's İzmir will come into service in late 2020 or early 2021," he said.
Construction works were also in progress on the Konya-Karaman-Yenice and Mersin-Adana-Osmaniye-Kahramanmaras-Gaziantep high-speed train lines, Turhan said. He added that work on the route that will connect the south line to Şanlıurfa and the middle axis to Niğde via Sivas, Malatya, Elazığ, and Diyarbakır were also ongoing. "Likewise, Niğde, which will be connected to the southern port via Samsun, Delice and Aksaray, will connect the ports of Samsun and Iskenderun via Mersin. With these lines, the work on the Erzincan-Trabzon line is moving ahead," he said. He pointed out that in addition to railway infrastructure, locomotives and cars, referred to as train sets, will be imported from Germany. "We have purchased seven high-speed train sets from Germany to date. The tenders we held for the last 10 units of high-speed train sets were also won by Germany's Siemens. After the signing of an agreement, the sets are now being produced," he added. Earlier in April, the Turkish State Railways (TCDD) reached a 340-million-euro deal with Siemens to buy 10 Velaro high-speed train sets. Stressing that the Germans and Chinese are interested in the high-speed railway projects in Turkey, the minister said that the financing works on this issue continues with the joint efforts of the ministries of Transport and Infrastructure and Treasury and Finance.