Turkey 1st Expert Group Meeting on Developing Euro-Asian Transport Linkages Hülya Zeybek

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TURKEY 1st Expert Group Meeting on Developing Euro-Asian Transport Linkages

  • Hülya Zeybek

  • March 10, 2004

  • Almaty,Kazakhstan

Transport in Turkey

  • Turkey is located between Asia and Europe serving as an intersection of trade. Therefore, developing Euro-Asian Transport Linkages is very important for Turkey.

  • Being aware of the importance of having efficient Euro-Asian Transport Linkages, Turkish government has taken several measures and undertaken investment to modernise and rehabilitate the infrastructure of the roads, railways and ports.

Transport in Turkey

  • Transport sector has a significant role in economy since the country is surrounded by sea on three sides and covers an extensive area of 814,578 sq.kilometers.

  • In foreign trade volume, the share of maritime transport is 88.8 %, highways 10.5%, railway 0.5 %, airway 0.2% in 2000.

  • In the share of foreign trade value, maritime transport led with 50.3 % of the total value followed by highways with 39.4 %, airway with 9.9 % and railway 0.4 % in 2000.

Transport in Turkey

  • Turkey has become a member of ESCAP on July 18, 1996.

  • Pan-European Transport Corridors IV and X extend to İstanbul . Moreover, Turkey falls within the geographical scope of two of the Pan European Transport Areas -Black Sea and Mediterranean Basin- which were adopted at the Third Pan-European Conference of Transport Ministers held in Helsinki in June 1997. Turkey is participating in activities designed to develop those corridors as well as in the TINA ( Transport Infrastructure Needs Assessment) and TRACECA (Transport Corridor Europe-Caucasus-Asia) projects.

International Agreements and Conventions

  • As a member of ESCAP, Turkey is a party/acceded to international Conventions/Agreements listed below:

  • Customs Convention on the International Transport of Goods under Cover of TIR Carnets(1975)

  • Customs Convention on Containers(1972)

  • Convention on the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods by Road(CMR)(1956)

  • The European Agreement on Main International Railway Lines (AGC), signed in 1985 

  • The European Agreement on Important International Combined Transport Lines and Related Installations (AGTC)

  • The European Agreement on Main International Traffic Arteries (AGR)

  • Convention Concerning the International Transport of Goods by Rail(COTIF), Berne 1980, which replaced the traditional national customs document with the International Consignment Note(CIM) established under COTIF.

Conventions to be Acceded

  • Turkey is not a party/acceded to;

  • Convention on Road Traffic(1968)

  • Convention on Road Signs and Signals(1968)

  • which are listed in Commission resolution 48/11.

  • For being a party to above mentioned Conventions, necessary documents has been forwarded to Ministry of Foreign affairs for legal procedures.

Current Situation of Road Transport

  • Turkish road network is 63.220 km excluding village roads in total.

  • According to the figures as June 2003 of National Statistics Institution, there are 7,562,859 registered motorized vehicles in Turkey and the number of vehicles per 1000 inhabitants is 109 and it is expected that this figure will increase in the future.

Current Situation of Road Transport

  • In Turkey, there are over 1000 companies giving international road freight transport services with approximately 44.000 tractor and trucks, and 50.000 semi-trailer, trailer.

  • And there are over 155 companies with 1500 buses serving international passenger transport.

  • Turkey has bilateral agreements with 53 different countries on International Road Transport.

Asian Highway Route in Turkey

  • In Turkey, the length of Asian Highway route is 5 247 Km.

E-Roads in Turkey (AGR)

  • International Highway network of Turkey, called E-Road, spreads across the country from west to east and north to south.

  • There are two main arteries. One is E-80 starting from Bulgarian border(Kapıkule), the other E-90 starting from Greek border(İpsala). These two arteries reach to the Middle east and Asian Highway routes on the south and east borders of Turkey passing via Anatolia.

  • In Turkey, the length of E-roads is 7 022 km.

Road Projects of Turkey

  • Black Sea On-Shore Transport Route ( Sarp(Georgia border)-Samsun-Sinop)

  • This route is an international road corridor along the Eastern Black Sea shore extending from Samsun up to Sarp on Georgian border. This is the most important road project which will connect Turkey to Caucasus region with a fast and efficient road system. The total length of this route is 715 km. It is under construction with modern technology as a double lane road. On this route, a single lane road is already existing, except a 28 km variant diverging from the existing road which is being reconstructed between Perþembe-Bolaman. This project will be completed in the near future.

Current Situation of Railway Transport

  • The Republic of Turkey General Directorate of State Railways Administration (TCDD) operates rail services on 10.948 km rail network in Turkey.( 8257 mainline, 2.277 Km subsidiary lines).

  • The network is predominantly single-tracked(95 %), only 414km is double-tracked.

  • 19 % of the network is electrified at 25kv, 50Hz. 23% of the network is signalized.

  • Standard track gauge(1435 mm),

  • Axle load: 20 tonnes

Current Situation of Railway Transport

  • TCDD is in the unique situation for the region of being responsible for the operation of 7 general purpose public sea ports comprising Derince, Bandırma, Mersin, İskenderun, Samsun, Haydarpaşa and İzmir, all having connections to railway and road network. TCDD ports are the most strategically important ports and handle the greatest cargo volume in Turkey.

  • Four of these ports- Haydarpaşa, Mersin, İskenderun and Samsun are connected by TAR network.

Current Situation of Railway Transport

  • Turkey has freight traffic to/from Europe via Bulgaria and Greece.

  • “Produktverbund” a block train between Germany and Turkey will soon be running on regular basis and negotiations regarding a “Mixed Train” between Ljubljana and Istanbul is going on.

  • There are direct connections to Iran and Syria while the Iraqi connection is via Syria.

  • “Istanbul-Almaty Block Container Train” runs once a week since 22 June 2002. The second stage for this train is to extend it from Hamburg to Lianyungang (China).

Current Situation of Railway Transport

  • The passenger traffic to/from Europe is also via Bulgaria and Greece.

  • The scheduled passenger trains are: Bosphorus Train ( Istanbul - Bucharest, daily) and Istanbul- Thessalonica Train(Istanbul-Thessalonica, daily).

  • There is also passenger trains to Iran and Syria, which are: Trans-Asia Train, once a week between Istanbul-Tehran and Taurus Express once a week between Istanbul- Damascus.

  • A passenger train to Iraq (Baghdad) is also planned to be put into service once a week.

On Going Major Rail Investment Projects:

Ankara-İstanbul Rehabilitation Project

      • Procurement of 10 High Speed Train Sets (Project Cost: 136 Million €)
      • Negotiations are going on with State Planning Organization.
      • Construction of High Speed Train Depot
      • (Project Cost: 11 Million €)
      • Project studies are going on.

Other Rail Investment Projects

  • Bosphorus Tunnel Crossing & Rehabilitation of Gebze-Halkalı Railway Line:

  • The project will both surve the urban transportation of Istanbul and the International East-West rail corridor of the country.

  • Total Lenght of Line : 76.3 km (immersed tube tunnel 1.6 km)

  • Total Cost : US $ 1.7 b

Other Rail Investment Projects

  • Balışıh-Yozgat-Yıldızeli-Sivas Construction of a New Line:

  • The project by-passing Kayseri on the Ankara-Sivas corridor will not only eliminate the bottle-neck in the ore transport but also will serve the International East-West traffic.

  • Total Length of Line : 306 km (double line)

  • Total Cost : US $ 1.8 b

Other Rail Investment Projects

  • Kars-Tbilisi Construction of a New Line:

  • The project will provide a rail connection between Turkey and Georgia as well as an alternative rail gate to Central & East Asian countries serving the East-West rail corridor between Europe and Asia.

  • Total Lenght of Line : 124 km (92 km in Turkish, 32 km in Georgian territory)

  • Total Cost : US $ 463 m

Other Rail Investment Projects

  • Lake Van Northern Crossing Construction of a New Line:

  • The project will provide a faster and uninterrupted alternative with more capacity to the existing ferry connection between Tatvan-Van on the East-West rail corridor to Central-East Asian countries via Iran.

  • Total Lenght of Line : 259 km

  • Total Cost : US $ 184 m

Other Rail Investment Projects

  • These Projects will not only serve domestic traffic but also will establish the shortest and non-interrupted railway connection between Europe and Middle and Central Asia.

Current Situation of Ports

  • Surrounded by sea on three sides, Turkey has the privilage of having strategic ports in a very rapidly developing region. With its 8,333 km of coastline, there exists 16 major public ports, 20 public piers, 50 small municipal piers and about 62 specialized private ports owned by industrial complexes.

  • Turkish ports having potential for intermodal transport are Haydarpaşa, Derince, İzmir, Samsun; Mersin, İskenderun which are all owned by TCDD and Tekirdağ and Trabzon operated by others.

Current Situation of Ports

  • Haydarpasa, Izmir and Mersin ports are the biggest ports of Turkey in terms of annual handling capacity and traffic capacity. The major commodity groups handled at TCDD ports are dry bulk, container, liquid bulk and general cargo.

  • Haydarpaşa, Mersin, Bandırma, İskenderun, Samsun and Derince ports have been registered as international ports and container terminals by the European Agreement on Main International Combined Transportation Lines and Related Facilities (AGTC).

Current Situation of Ports

  • Mersin port is the largest port of Turkey. It is situated on the eastern part of the South coast of the country. Mersin Port has 4692 vessels/year traffic capacity and 6.1 million tons/year handling capacity. There is a free trade zone established in 1986 in the port area.

Current Situation of Ports

  • Situated on the South Coast of Turkey, Port of İskenderun is the second main port for the Eastern mediterranean industry and agriculture and also for transit traffic to the Middle East. It has the traffic capacity of 640 vessels/year and the handling capacity of 3.3 million tons/year.

Current Situation of Ports

  • Situated on the Black Sea Coast of Turkey, Samsun Port is very important in the Black Sea region. Its traffic capacity is 1130 vessels/year and the handling capacity is 2.4 Million tons/year. Samsun Port has a connection with railway network through which it is linked with Mersin and İskenderun ports on the south coast of Turkey. In this regard, a train-ferry line is established between the ports of Constanta (Romania) and Samsun (Turkey).

  • The ferry terminal in the Port of Samsun provides combined transport services for Ro-Ro, Ro-La and train ferry operations.

Current Situation of Ports

  • Haydarpaşa port is situated on the Asian side of the Bosphorus. Traffic capacity of this port 2651 vessels/year and the handling capacity is 5.4 Million tons/year.

On Going Major Port Investment Projects

  • TCDD received Euro 36 million from European Investment Bank and Euro 39 Million firm credit for the procurement of container handling equipment at Haydarpaşa, İzmir and Mersin Ports. Within this Project 26 transtainers have already been procured. 2 post-panamax will be provided in 2004 to install in Mersin port to make it ready for being a main container port.

Ro-ro transport

  • In recent years, due to the problems arising in the road transport, ro-ro transport has increased to significant level. 28 % of the total export to the European countries and 6 % of the total import from European countries is realized by ro-ro transport.

  • There are about 29 ro-ro vessels in Turkish fleet. 6 regular private ro-ro vessels are operating to CIS counties through Black Sea.


  • Transport is crucial for economy by providing essential support for commercial and industrial activities, foreign trade and transit traffic. Transportation is gaining even more importance now with globalisation.

  • To cope with tough competition faced, an extreme need occurs not only for better coordination and cooperation between transport modes but also for harmonization of technical and administrative standards of the same modes of the countries in ESCAP Region.

  • General Directorate

  • of


  • Research Planning & Coordination Dept.

  • e-mail: hzeybek43@hotmail.com

Bottlenecks and Obstacles

  • Since the track gauge is different in Turkey and CIS countries, during the transport to CIS countries the axles of wagons are changed or the goods are transferred to CIS wagons.

  • Axle load limits and standardization of vehicles are the other main issues in transport where there should be an harmonized application .

  • Since there is no tariff unification between Turkey and CIS countries, the shippers should use a forwarder in Romania, Bulgaria and Iran.

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