Turkey plans to open its railways to private sector

Turkey plans to open its railways to private sector

Turkey plans to open its railways to private sector

Public and private actors will be allowed to build and operate railways if the draft is approved by Parliament. AA photo

Turkey is seeking to open up its railways to private-sector involvement after a long-standing period of state monopolization, with a new draft code empowering private companies to operate their own railway transportation.

The draft code, presented to Parliament late March 6, aims to establish a company under the name of the Turkish State Railways (TCDD) Transport AŞ for train management units. 

Public and private legal entities and firms as well will be licensed to build their own railway infrastructure, become infrastructure operators on these railways, and also manage trains on the national railway network. 

Transport Minister Binali Yıldırım said yesterday Turkey’s investments in railways had jumped to 5 billion Turkish Liras from 230 million liras last year, adding that it totaled 26 billion liras in the last 10 years. Speaking at the Eurasia Rolling Stock, Infrastructure and Logistics Exhibition yesterday, the minister said the prices for railway transportation could drop.

“The routes will remain at athe hands of the state, but those who demand will be able to use them, just like the airports and highways,” Yıldırım added. According to the draft, the right of access will be allocated to the companies for a maximum period of 49 years. 

The new law will transform TCDD into an operator of railway infrastructure. The TCDD will have the authority over infrastructure operations on the national railways network, which would be transferred to its responsibility by the state. The Ministry of Transport will allocate payments for infrastructure investments such as building railways for high speed trains and renovating railway infrastructure.

High-speed trains

Yıldırım stated that the investments were slated to increase to 45 billion liras by 2023, as railways for High Speed Trains (YHT) were planned to reach 10,000 kilometers. “We will connect 15 cities with YHT,” he said, adding that the total length of the railway networks would increase from 11,000 kilometers to 25,500 in the country. 

There are also plans to build a high-speed railway line between the Black Sea region and the southeast of Turkey as part of a railway plan between Trabzon and Diyarbakır connecting the Black Sea with the southeast of Turkey, Syria and Iraq.