Following announcement of its domestic automobile project earlier this month, Turkey is preparing to make another historic move: Developing railway systems.
The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) recently started the country's first electric locomotive project, scheduled to be completed within the next 48 months.
TÜBİTAK is carrying out the project under the leadership of Science, Industry and Technology Minister Faruk Özlü. A team of 160 people has been working on the E5000 Type Electric Locomotive Development Project since October.
Once completed, the locomotive will become the Turkish State Railways' (TCDD) workhorse for mainline freight and passenger transport needs.
As part of the project, the design and prototype of an electric locomotive featuring modern driving system with 5,000-kilowatt power with a top speed of 160-kilometer and speed and Technical Specifications for Interoperability (specifications drafted by the European Railway Agency) will be developed. The locomotive will undergo tests for four years to earn certification and become the most powerful vehicle with haulage and control systems designed and manufactured in Turkey.
Together, they will design the locomotive and produce prototypes in close cooperation with the private sector. Once the prototype is certified and successfully commissioned, the TCDD will order 20 vehicles in the first stage, marking the beginning of an era. With the project, it will become possible to design and produce vehicles and critical subsystems of 5,000 kW and larger domestically.
In line with Turkey's vision 2023, the country plans to purchase some 500 locomotives in the coming years. The average lifespan of a railway vehicle is 30 years. With Turkey producing its own locomotives, a significant portion of an estimated $4 billion will remain in the country in that period.
In addition, the domestic locomotive project will prove that Turkey is not only an infrastructure operator but is capable of meeting its needs through local designs and expertise. The experience and knowledge gained from the project will lessen foreign dependency on locomotive design and production. It will also make the export of Turkish technology possible, securing its place among a handful of nations that build and export electric locomotives.