First freight train heads to Germany

First freight train heads to Germany

First freight train heads to Germany

The block train-ferry combined freight movement project has been launched with a ceremony. AA photo

The first privately owned train kicked off its expedition as part of the Great Anatolian Logistics Organization (BALO) project over the weekend from the Aegean province of Manisa, heading to the German province of Munich.

The departure of the block train was celebrated with a farewell ceremony attended by Transport Minister Binali Yıldırım, Union of Chambers and Bourse (TOBB) Chairman Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu, and TCDD General Director Süleyman Karaman.

The project was realized with the contribution of 93 local business organizations and aims to facilitate trade to and from Europe as well as reduce freight transportation costs.

The expeditions will be made twice a week to the German cities Munich and Cologne in the initial stage, before gradually increasing to five times a week.

According to the scheme, the container freight of Anatolian exporters will be picked up from their doors and collected at logistics centers run by the Turkish State Railways (TCDD) before being brought to Bandırma port in northwestern Turkey with block trains.

The load will travel to the northwestern province of Tekirdağ via container ships, from which they will depart for European harbors. Imported goods coming from Europe will be carried via the same route.

The project also marks a watershed in Turkey’s efforts to boost the importance of railways within the country’s transport system.

“We aim to raise the share of railways within the country’s transport system to 15 percent by 2023,” Karaman said during the farewell ceremony.

Call for rail investment

In May, the government adopted a bill to liberalize railways, paving the way for the involvement of private actors in the formerly state-dominated sector.

Speaking at the ceremony as well, Yıldırım called on businesspeople to take steps to undertake their own freight transportation.