Rail transport in Turkey
YHT at Ankara.JPG
TCDD's premier high-speed rail service, Yüksek Hızlı Tren, waiting to depart Ankara.
National railwayTurkish State Railways
Ridership164.7 million (2019)[1]
Passenger km5,88 billion (2011)[2]
Freight11,3 billion tkm (2011)[2]
System length
Double track946 km
Electrified3,304 km
High-speed745 km
Track gauge
Main1,435 mm / 4 ft 8+12 in standard gauge
High-speed1,435 mm / 4 ft 8+12 in standard gauge
Main25 kV, 50 Hz AC
No. tunnels804
Tunnel length200.407 km

Turkey has a state-owned railway system built to standard gauge (1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in)) which falls under the remit of the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. The primary rail carrier is the Türkiye Cumhuriyeti Devlet Demiryolları (TCDD) (Turkish State Railways) which is responsible for all long-distance and cross-border freight and passenger trains. A number of other companies operate suburban passenger trains in urban conurbations.

Native railway industry extends to the production of locomotives, passenger vehicles and freight wagons; some vehicles are also produced through licensing agreements and cooperation with foreign countries.

In the early 21st century, major infrastructural projects were realized; such as the construction of a high-speed railway network as well as a tunnel under the Bosphorus strait which connects Europe and Anatolia by rail for the first time.

Turkey is a member of the International Union of Railways (UIC). The UIC Country Code for Turkey is 75.


Main article: History of rail transport in Turkey

Map showing the Ottoman railways on the eve of World War I
Map showing the Ottoman railways on the eve of World War I

Construction of the first railway line in Turkey began in 1856, being constructed by a British company that had gained permission from the Ottoman Empire. Later, French and German companies also constructed lines - the motivation was not only economic, the region had a strategically important position as a trade route between Europe and Asia.[4]

As with other countries, rapid expansion followed; by 1922 over 8,000 km (4,971 mi) of lines had been constructed in the Ottoman Empire.[note 1] At the birth of the Republic of Turkey in 1923, there were 3,660 km (2,274 mi) of standard gauge lines, of which 1,378 km (856 mi) were state-owned; while the lines owned by foreign investors were eventually nationalized starting from 1927. The railways were considered an essential part of the state by the government of the Republic, and continued to expand with new railway projects - over 3,000 km (1,864 mi) of new tracks were built in Turkey between 1923 and 1940. Railways were constructed serving mines, agriculture, people and ports; at the same time more lines serving eastern Anatolia were built, in their part helping to tie Turkey together as a functioning state.[4]

In the years following World War II, the emphasis in transportation shifted to asphalt road and highway construction;[4] it was not until the end of the 20th century that railways returned to favour with major passenger infrastructure projects being initiated,[5][6] and five thousand kilometres of new lines planned for construction.[7]

The Central Treaty Organisation, dissolved after the Iranian Revolution, sponsored some railway building with British money. A railway line, some of which was completed, was built to enable a rail connexion between London and Tehran via Van. A section from Lake Van in Turkey to Sharafkhaneh in Iran was completed and funded in large part by CENTO (mainly the UK). The civil engineering was especially challenging because of the difficult terrain. Part of the route included a rail ferry across Lake Van with a terminal at Tatvan on the Western side of the lake. Notable features of the railway on the Iranian side included 125 bridges, among them the Towering Quotor span, measuring 1,485 ft (453 m) in length, spanning a gorge 396 ft (121 m) deep.[8][9]

Future restructuring and plans

The Turkish State Railways (TCDD) may be split with the passenger and freight operations being part of a new company named DETAŞ (Demiryolu Taşımacılığı Anonim Şirketi, meaning Railway Transport Company) with TCDD left as a track and infrastructure operator.[10] This restructuring will also allow other rail operators to run trains on TCDD tracks by means of track access charges, and will end the monopoly of TCDD.[11]

The new law about liberalization of Turkish railway transportation is accepted by Turkish Parliament and approved by the President of Turkey in April 2013.[12] According to the law, TCDD will stay as the owner of infrastructure and the new company TCDD Taşımacılık AŞ will be operating the trains. Private companies will soon be allowed to run on TCDD infrastructure as well as the new infrastructure owned by private companies if constructed.[13] Turkish Ministry of Transportation has a plan of constructing 4,000 km (2,485 mi) conventional and 10,000 km (6,214 mi) high speed lines till 2023.[14] There are also some commuter rail projects like Marmaray and Başkentray.


A TCDD HT80000 at the ATG terminal in Ankara
A TCDD HT80000 at the ATG terminal in Ankara
The ATG terminal in Ankara is a hub for the YHT services of the Turkish State Railways
The ATG terminal in Ankara is a hub for the YHT services of the Turkish State Railways

In 2022, Turkey had 12,532 km (7,787 mi)[3] of railway lines, of which 95% were single-tracked,[note 2] 21% of the network was electrified and 28% signalled. Due to the mountainous geography of the country, the network has many steep gradients and sharp curves.[15] The Turkish rail network does not cover all major cities; its fourth and fifth largest metropolitan areas of Bursa and Antalya respectively remain unconnected to the network, although plans exist for high-speed rail lines to reach them.

See also: Railway electrification in Turkey

As of June 2016, there is 8,334 km (5,179 mi) of conventional railway line and 593 km (368 mi) of high-speed railway line. 2,288 km (1,422 mi) of the network is electrified (31%), and 3,036 km (1,886 mi) of it is signaled (37%).[16] Turkish Ministry of Transportation has a plan of constructing 2,000 km (1,243 mi) conventional and 5,000 km (3,107 mi) high speed lines till 2023.[14]

Electrified lines run from Kapıkule on the Bulgarian border via Istanbul to Ankara, and from Divriği via Malatya to İskenderun on the Mediterranean coast.[15] Additionally, Sivas and İzmir have electrified networks. Here are some technical informations (standards) about the Turkish railway system:

High-speed rail lines

Main article: High-speed rail in Turkey

Rail transport map of Turkey
Rail transport map of Turkey

The first completed section of the high-speed rail line between Ankara and Eskişehir was opened by the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on 13 March 2009.[17]

As of May 2016, there are four high-speed routes (Istanbul-Ankara, Istanbul-Konya, Ankara-Eskisehir, Ankara-Konya) running on two different high-speed railway lines. Bursa, Sivas and Izmir are among some of other cities to be connected to the high-speed network with works being underway.[18] Bursa will be connected to the Ankara-Istanbul high-speed railway, a new line is currently being constructed from Ankara to Sivas and another new line from Polatlı to İzmir via Afyon is also under construction.

Lines are also planned from Yerköy (on the line from Ankara to Sivas) to Kayseri and another one from Halkalı to Edirne on Turkey's European border with Bulgaria.[15]

Passenger transport

In addition to high speed lines, there are several regular trains for passenger transportation. Almost all the network is covered by these passenger trains, which are mostly departing every day.[19] In addition to high speed trains, there are several types of wagons being used for railway transport like pulman, sleeping cars, couchette, dmu and emu sets. In 2019, 164.7 million passengers used the Turkish rail network.[1]

As of May 2016, there are several construction points (mainly for signalization or electrification) in Turkish rail network which is causing complete or partial closures.[20]

Railway links with adjacent countries

Main article: Railway border crossings of Turkey

West neighboring countries

East neighboring countries

South neighboring countries

Trains to Iraq must be routed via Syria; the section of the tracks within Syria, between the Turkish and Iraqi borders is 81 km long. From 5 March 2012 due to the civil war in Syria, all rail services from Turkey to Syria were stopped; as a consequence freight going from Turkey to Iraq was routed to Nusaybin in southeast Turkey, from where it was transported to Iraq by truck.[22]

The Iranian rail network is connected to the Turkish rail network via the Lake Van train ferry close to the border - which creates a serious bottleneck.[23][note 3][22] In 2007 an agreement was made to create a rail link between the two countries.[24]

This article needs to be updated. Please help update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. (December 2018)

A new connection to the Caucasus region and Central Asia via Georgia and Azerbaijan is planned (see the Kars–Tbilisi–Baku railway); the line will involve a break of gauge from 1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in) to 1,520 mm (4 ft 11+2732 in). The construction of the line is planned to be completed by 2014 and has a target of transporting 17 million tons of cargo per year.[25] This railway by-passes the Kars–Gyumri–Tbilisi railway line that connected Turkey to Armenia which was closed in 1993[26] during the First Nagorno-Karabakh War; in 2009 the possibility of re-opening the line was stated by the Armenian transport minister.[27]

Urban rail


Suburban systems in Turkey as listed below:

City System Operator Electrification Gauge Bidirectional traffic Notes
İstanbul Marmaray TCDD Taşımacılık A.Ş. 25 kV, 50 Hz AC Overhead line 1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in) standard gauge Right-hand traffic
Ankara Başkentray
Gaziantep Gaziray TCDD Taşımacılık A.Ş. Under construction
Konya Konyaray Tender phase
Afyon Afray Planning phase


Six cities in Turkey have Metro/LRT system, listed as follows:

City System Electrification Conductor system Gauge Bidirectional traffic Opened
İstanbul İstanbul Metro 750 V DC & 1,500 V DC Third rail & Overhead line 1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in) standard gauge Right-hand traffic 3 September 1989
Ankara Ankara Metro 750 V DC Third rail 20 August 1996
İzmir İzmir Metro 22 April 2000
Bursa Bursaray 1,500 V DC Overhead line 24 April 2002
Adana Adana Metro 750 V DC 14 May 2010
Konya Konya Metro 750 V DC  ?? Overhead line ?? planned 03-July 2020[needs update]

A further two metro systems are planned in Mersin and Gebze.


There are also several tram systems in many cities, listed as follows:

City System Electrification Gauge Bidirectional traffic Opened
İstanbul Istanbul Tram 750 V DC Overhead line 1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in) standard gauge Right-hand traffic 13 June 1992
İzmir İzmir Tram 11 April 2017
Bursa Burtram 13 October 2013
Antalya Antalya Tram December 2009
Konya Konya Tram 28 September 1992
Gaziantep Gaziantep Tram ?
Kayseri Kayseray 2009
Samsun Samsun Tram 10 October 2010
Trabzon Trabzon Tram Planned
Eskişehir Estram 1,000 mm (3 ft 3+38 in) metre gauge 24 December 2004

Nostalgic tramway

City System Electrification Conductor system Gauge Bidirectional traffic
İstanbul İstanbul Tram 600 V DC Overhead line 1,000 mm (3 ft 3+38 in) metre gauge Partially
Bursa Burtram ? No
Antalya Antalya Tram ? 1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in) standard gauge Partially


Turkish State Railways

Main article: Turkish State Railways

In combination with its affiliates, the State Railways of the Republic of Turkey (Türkiye Cumhuriyeti Devlet Demiryolları, TCDD) have a monopoly on passenger[note 4] and freight rail transportation, as well as the manufacturing of rolling stock and tracks.[28] The organization was created in 1927 to operate the former railway lines of the Ottoman Empire that were left within the borders of the Republic of Turkey whose boundaries were defined with the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923. Additionally, major ports are also operated by the company.[15]

Affiliated companies

Three affiliated companies of the TCDD produce rolling stock for the Turkish railway system:

Statistical information

As of 2008, there were 8,699 km (5,405 mi) of main railway lines in Turkey, of which 5% are double tracked, 28% are electrified and 25% are signalled; there are also 2,306 km of sidings.[36]

The most common rail weight is ~49 kg/m with 69% of track, the remainder being of lighter weight rail, except for 150 km of 60 kg/m rail. Similarly, 69% of sleepers are of the concrete type, with the remainder being wood (~19%) and steel (~12%). Over 700 tunnels exist, with a total length of 181 km; the majority (~76%) are under 1 km long and only one of them has a length of over 4 km. 1,316 steel bridges (average length 22 m) and over 10,000 concrete bridges (average length 2.9 m) exist, the majority (99%) are suitable for axle loads over 20 t, with 40% allowing axle loads of 22.5 tonnes.[36]

In 2008, there were 64 electric locomotives and 549 diesel locomotives in Turkey, with availabilities of 81 and 84 percent, respectively. Additionally, 50 steam locomotives exist, of which 2 are kept in active order. In addition to the 83 EMUs and 44 DMUs for passenger transport, there were 995 coaches in Turkey (830 of which were in working order.) Over 17,000 wagons of various types make up the rest of the fleet.[36]

Rail gauge in Turkey

All high-speed and main rail lines use standard-gauge railway with the exception of the Bursa and Istanbul nostalgic tramways, which use the metre-gauge railway.

See also

References and notes


  1. ^ In the Ottoman Empire: some parts of lines extending into the middle east would not be incorporated into the Turkish State on its creation
  2. ^ 8697km of lines
  3. ^ Not only do trains need to be split for ferry transport, but the 91km water journey takes 5 hours. (See Economic and social commissioner for Asia and the Pacific: Development of the Trans-Asian Railway in the southern corridor of Asia-Europe routes Archived 19 April 2011 at the Wayback Machine United Nations, page 42, Peter Hodgkinson www.unescap.org
  4. ^ Excluding urban mass transit systems, and tram networks.


  1. ^ a b "Rail passenger transport by type of transport for main undertakings, 2018-2019 (thousand passengers)". ec.europa.eu. Retrieved 24 September 2021.
  2. ^ a b TCDD statistical report 2009-2013 page 119, www.tcdd.gov.tr
  3. ^ a b Invest in Turkey: Transportation and logistics
  4. ^ a b c Turkish State Railways : Railway policies throughout the 80 years of our history www.tcdd.gov.tr
  5. ^ Ministry of Transport and Communications : Ankara-Istanbul high speed train project Archived 29 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine www.ubak.gov.tr
  6. ^ Ministry of Transport and Communications : Marmaray project Archived 29 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine www.ubak.gov.tr
  7. ^ Ministry of Transport and Communications : Strategic Aims and Targets Archived 29 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine (section "strategy") www.ubak.gov.tr
  8. ^ Geneva Times, 15 April 1971. p9 http://fultonhistory.com/Newspaper%2011/Geneva%20NY%20Daily%20Times/Geneva%20NY%20Daily%20Times%201971%20Mar-Apr%201971%20Grayscale/Geneva%20NY%20Daily%20Times%201971%20Mar-Apr%201971%20Grayscale%20-%201035.pdf
  9. ^ Meklis, Y. Along the Path of a CENTO Railway: A Narrative with Text and Photographs Telling how Iran and Turkey, with the Support of CENTO Associates, are Repeating History by Linking Their Countries with a Modern Railway. CENTO Public Relations Division (1959?). https://books.google.com/books/about/Along_the_Path_of_a_CENTO_Railway.html?id=qEUYAAAAIAAJ&hl=en
  10. ^ On the fast track to reform Archived 4 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine 9 March 2009, railwaygazette.com
  11. ^ Government mulls comprehensive railway reform 30 July 2008
  12. ^ "Law of Liberalization of Railway Transportation (in Turkish)" Turkish Parliament
  13. ^ Uysal, Onur. "Turkish Republic Liberalized Railways", Rail Turkey, 24 March 2013
  14. ^ a b Uysal, Onur. "2023 Targets in Rail Freight - Network", Rail Turkey, 11 July 2013
  15. ^ a b c d Presentation of the Rail Transport:Turkey Archived 3 March 2011 at WebCite Tevfik Muhammed, Engineer, Turkish State Railways (TCDD), 21 November 2008 www.euromedtransport.org
  16. ^ Turkish State Railways Annual Statistics 2010-2014
  17. ^ Turkey high speed launch Archived 4 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine 13 March 2009 railwaygazette.com
  18. ^ In the Ottoman Empire: some parts of lines extending into the middle east would not be incorporated into the Turkish State on its creation
  19. ^ Uysal, Onur. "Traveling by Train in Turkey", Rail Turkey, 5 March 2014
  20. ^ Uysal, Onur. "Where is Closed in Turkish Railways?", Rail Turkey, 16 May 2014
  21. ^ Railway Gazette International - January 2008 p51
  22. ^ a b Kayalar, Ali (27 September 2012), "No Turkish Trains Arrive in Syria, Iraq for Months", www.hurriyetdailynews.com, Hurriyet Daily News
  23. ^ Country report of Republic of Turkey in the field of transport and telecommunication Archived 7 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine page 3, United Nations Economic and Social commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) www.unescap.org
  24. ^ Turkey, Iran agree on joint railway 27 July 2007 yenisafak.com.tr
  25. ^ Uysal, Onur. "Baku Tbilisi Kars Railway to be Opened in 2014", Rail Turkey, 15 June 2013
  26. ^ The closed Armenia-Turkey border:Economic and social effects, including those on the people; and implications for the overall situation in the region Study produced for the European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs Committee on Development, Author :Nathalie Tocci, Co-authors: Burcu Gültekin-Punsmann, Licínia Simão, Nicolas Tavitian, August 2007, (specifics p14) www.europarl.europa.eu
  27. ^ Armenia-Turkey railway network may be launched in couple of days Archived 19 August 2010 at the Wayback Machine 11 November 2009 www.armtown.com
  28. ^ Project information document (PID) : Railways restructuring project (Turkey) World Bank, 2009, www-wds.worldbank.org
  29. ^ TÜLOMSAŞ Company brochure Archived 29 December 2009 at the Wayback Machine www.tulomsas.com.tr
  30. ^ TUVASAS Company website www.tuvasas.com
  31. ^ Tuvasas, Manufacturers and services - Locomotives and passenger vehicles (Turkey) www.janes.com
  32. ^ Hyundai Rotem newsletter No.15 page 2, 2008, www.hyundai-rotem.co.kr
  33. ^ Hyundai Rotem newsletter No.16 page 3, 2009, www.hyundai-rotem.co.kr
  34. ^ İlk hızlı tren fabrikası üretime başlıyor Archived 17 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine Plant begins production of the first high speed train, October 2008, www.tumgazeteler.com
  35. ^ TÜDEMSAŞ Company website www.tudemsas.gov.tr
  36. ^ a b c TCDD annual report 2008 www.tcdd.gov.tr

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