Turkey is set to mobilize its investments in railway infrastructure, and new lines have been included on the country’s agenda, including those that will directly connect industrial production zones to commercial ports, Infrastructure and Transport Minister Adil Karaismailoğlu said Thursday.
He said that they are planning their railway networks according to feasibility studies and that the country will be a logistics superpower when setting up the infrastructure with the new investments.
Karaismailoğlu was speaking to Anadolu Agency's (AA) Editorial Desk about the country’s current railway infrastructure, plans and new investments.
He said that the country has achieved a lot in the last 18 years in the field of transportation.
“We have increased the length of divided roads from 6,000 kilometers to up to 28,000 kilometers,” Karaismailoğlu said, 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,” Karaismailoğlu said, adding that thus it is time to focus on the railways.
Karaismailoğlu said that Turkey had nearly 9,000 kilometers of railway in the 1930s however, from the 1940s to 2002, there was no real investment in railway infrastructure. He said that this changed under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as the country has been accelerating its efforts to increase railway capacity in recent years.
Commenting on the modernized Samsun-Sivas line, which just recently opened with a ceremony attended by Erdoğan, Karaismailoğlu said the line connects the Black Sea to the central Anatolian region and then to the Mediterranean. The 431-kilometer railway line which is now operating at increased capacity will also contribute to the trade corridor from Northern Europe to the Middle East.
Turkey is located on a corridor that reaches from Beijing to London, Karaismailoğlu said.
Railway for industrialists
The minister said there are new railway lines that have been included in the country’s future plans, and some of the most important ones are those that will connect Organized Industrial Zones (OIZ) to ports. These railways will provide timely, cost-effective transportation for industrial products on their way to commercial ports, making Turkey's industrialists a direct part of global trade.
The minister said their plans include industrial production zones near Iskenderun Port in southern Turkey’s Hatay province, Mersin Port in southern Mersin province, Filyos Port in northern Zonguldak province and Alsancak Port and soon-to-be opened Çandarlı Port in western Izmir.
“We aim to reduce the costs of 50% in logistics to less than 10%,” he added.
Stating that they aim to increase the annual amount of 30 million tons of freight transported 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 there to 20 million tons from 5 million tons," he said.
There are also plans for a line that will cross Nakhchivan following the recent developments in Azerbaijan, the minister said.
Karaismailoğlu stated that work continues on high-speed train lines as well as freight transportation.
"The Mersin-Adana-Gaziantep line is very important" in order for southeastern Gaziantep province to have a connection to the sea, he said.
Karaismailoğlu said that currently 70% of customers prefer railway transportation between the capital Ankara and central Konya province 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 suspended 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 established a new brand, Turkey Rail System Tools Industries Inc. (TÜRASAŞ), and that the production of high-speed trains will be carried out under the scope of this brand.
Commenting on the space initiatives, Karaismailoğlu said the Türksat 5A satellite will be launched into space by mid-December and the Türksat 5B is planned 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 domestic and national technologies, is under construction,” and the country will launch it into space by the beginning of 2022, Karaismailoğlu said. “Thus, we will be using our own technologies in space,” he added.