Looking to achieve technological independence in the rail transport industry, Turkey will, in a major milestone, establish the Institute of Rail Transport Technologies in Gebze, a well-known industrial district in Kocaeli province.
The announcement came from Industry and Technology Minister Mustafa Varank, who on Saturday attended the signing ceremony of a cooperation protocol between the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) and Turkish State Railways (TCDD) on the founding of the institute.
"We aim to achieve technological independence in the rail transport industry," Varank said in his address at the ceremony, which was also attended by Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Cahit Turhan.
Noting the importance of rail systems outlined in the 2023 Industry and Technology Strategy that was announced recently as part of the 11th Development Plan, the minister said the government included rail systems in the "priority product group to promote domestic production" list in its technology-oriented industrial action program.
Stressing that the Transportation Ministry plans to invest 70 billion euros ($77.14 billion) in the sector, including infrastructure, over the next 15 years, Varank noted that this amount indicates how critical the use of domestic and national resources in rail systems is.
"The cooperation protocol signed today will be an important milestone on the road to this independence. With this protocol, we are establishing an institute in partnership with TÜBİTAK and the TCDD. Thus, with the contributions of the private sector, we want to be a Turkey that is not only a user, but also that meets its own needs and exports the technology it develops," the minister added.
He added that they examined successful examples in the world to this end, adding: "We have seen that specialist national institutes play a key role in breakthroughs in transport technologies. So, we are designing a similar model as the Ministry of Industry and Technology and the Ministry of Transport."
The Rail Transport Technologies Institute in Gebze will be established with about 100 experts at TÜBITAK's Marmara Research Center [MAM] Energy Institute, Varank said. "Later, work will be carried out at the TCDD's Ankara facilities. We expect to reach 500 R&D [research and development] personnel," he added.
With the founding of this institute, the minister added that all railway technologies that Turkey needs will be designed with domestic and national means, technology transfer agreements will be executed by this institute, and future railway technologies will be developed there.
Turkish producer of transportation vehicles, Bozankaya, in cooperation with Siemens, made the country's first-ever metro car export – Bangkok's metro line – worth $46.1 million at the end of June last year.
"Hopefully, this institute will provide strategic guidance and help similar entrepreneurs," Varank said.
The joint venture is also to produce 105 metro cars for a project in Thailand.
Bozankaya has spent over 25 million euros on R&D projects in the last 5 years and earned over 100 million euros from products developed as a result of R&D activities.