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Turkish rail network prepares for the future

2 April 2013  •  Author(s): James Abbott, Technical Editor, European Railway Review

Turkey is a country on the move. It has a younger and faster growing population than anywhere in Europe. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD1) predicts Turkey will be the second fastest-growing country in the world by 2018, and by 2025 the Turkish economy is expected to outstrip those of Canada, Spain and Italy. The country is building a railway to service this fast-growing economy. Since a decision made a decade ago that Turkey’s railway should be modernised rather than gently left to rot as it had been beforehand, substantial progress has been made in building a system fit for the 21st century.

The standard-bearer for the new-look railway is TCDD’s (Turkish Railways) expanding network of high-speed lines. Trains capable of speeds up to 250km/h were launched between Ankara and Eskisehir in March 2009, stealing traffic from the roads and pushing TCDD’s market share between the two cities up from just 10% to 75%.

The second high-speed line, from Ankara to Konya, was inaugurated in August 2011. This marked a leap forward for rail passengers, with the journey time from the capital slashed from 10 hours and 30 minutes to one hour and 30 minutes. This dramatic improvement was possible as the new line takes a direct route just 306km-long instead of the previous uncompetitive 688km circuitous route via Afyon. The Konya route shares the Eskisehir route on the exit from Ankara as far as Polatili, where it branches off southward; altogether the new route has 212km of new double-track line.

Chief contractor for electrical and mechanical equipment on the new line was Yapı Merkezi, with subsidiary Rayton building a track assembly facility to supply the new line at Pinarbasi near Konya. Overhead line equipment was designed and installed by Balfour Beatty GmbH, while signalling and control equipment came from Invensys’ Spanish subsidiary Dimetronic and telecommunications equipment from Kapsch CarrierCom.

More high-speed lines

Next stage in the high-speed programme is to extend the Ankara–Eskisehir line to Istanbul Work is currently underway and the line is expected to be completed in 2015. A three-hour journey from Ankara to Istanbul is the target.

In tandem with construction of that route, a line will be built branching southwest off the Konya line, running 167km to Afyon. The contract for the construction of the Afyon route was signed in 2012 with a consortium of Sigma, Burkay, Makimsan and YDA.

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