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History of rail transport in Turkey


History of rail transport in Turkey

Istanbul Sirkeci Terminal opened in 1890 as the terminus of the Ottoman Empire's principal European railway line, serving also the famous Orient Express
Turkish railways map (1918)

The history of rail transport in Turkey began with the start of the placement in 1856 of a 130 kilometres (81 mi) railway line between Izmir and Aydın. The first finished Ottoman railway line was a 66 kilometres (41 mi) line between Köstence (Constanţa, Romania today) and Boğazköy (Cernavodă, Romania today) built in 1859-1860.

The state corporation that manages the Turkish railway system, Turkish State Railways, subdivides the history into the Pre-Republic period (Ottoman period), the Republic period (which extends from 1923 to 1950) and the period after 1950.[1] During the first period, railways were built and operated by foreign concerns with permission from the state. In the second, the state took over its own railways and expanded them in support of Turkish financial interests. In the third period, attention turned from rail travel to highways, and the expansion of railways dramatically slowed.


  • Ottoman Empire period 1
    • İzmir-Aydın railway (1860-) 1.1
    • İzmir-Turgutlu railway (1865-) 1.2
    • European (Şark) railway (1871-) 1.3
    • Anatolian railway (1872-) 1.4
    • Mersin Tarsus Adana railway (1882-) 1.5
    • Bagdad railway (1904-) 1.6
    • Cenup railway (1912-) 1.7
  • Republican Period (1920-1950) 2
  • 1950s forward 3
  • Proposed lines 4
  • Museums 5
  • Timeline of railway investment and construction under the Ottoman Empire 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
    • Notes 8.1
    • Books 8.2
  • External links 9

Ottoman Empire period

During the period of the Ottoman Empire British, French and German concerns funded and ran private railways in Turkey having gotten permits to do so from the state.[1]

İzmir-Aydın railway (1860-)

The first railway to be constructed in Turkey was the Izmir-Aydin line,[1] the first part of which was opened in 1860. Further construction and extension of the line continued up to 1912, by which time the total length was in excess of 700 km.[2]

İzmir-Turgutlu railway (1865-)

The second railway to be opened was the Izmir-Turgutlu railway. As with the Izmir-Aydin line expansion continued for several decades, and by 1912 the total length was well in excess of 500 km.[2]

European (Şark) railway (1871-)

In 1871 the Yenikapı to Florya section of the Sark railway opened, further lines were added in the years 1872 and 1873 to create 288 km of lines. A further extension was added in 1912 of 46 km.[2]

Anatolian railway (1872-)

The first section of the Anatolian railway (Anadolu demiryollari) opened in 1872, and the line saw constant growth through the next three decades.[2]

Mersin Tarsus Adana railway (1882-)

The Mersin to Adana opened the section to Yenice in 1882, and was completed, having reached Adana by 1886.[2]

Bagdad railway (1904-)

The Bagdad (modern day Iraq) railway extended into Turkey, with lines reaching Konya and other parts of western Turkey.[2]

Cenup railway (1912-)

First opened in 1912.[2]

Republican Period (1920-1950)

During the Turkish War of Independence, the new breakaway government in Ankara held control over sections of railways located in central and southern Anatolia. In 1920, these were brought under the roof of Chemin de Fer d'Anatolie ("Anadolu Şimendiferleri" - distinct from "Ottoman Anatolian Railways") with its center in Ankara and administered by Behiç Erkin, the founding figure of modern Turkey's railway network and a colonel at the time. Erkin pursued his office as director general beyond the war during a crucial period that lasted until 1926, after which he was Turkey's minister for transports for two years.

In 1923, Turkish railways entered into what the Turkish State Railways term the "Republic Period", a "golden age" that lasted until 1950.[1] During this time, the railways that had already been created were repurposed to serve Turkish financial interests, prioritizing industrial growth in such industries as iron, steel and coal.[1] In addition to claiming existing lines, the Turkish government extended lines into the previously underrepresented Central and Eastern areas of Turkey to achieve near balance. Between 1935 and 1945, emphasis was placed on construction of junction lines, to improve industrial connectivity and also strengthen national defense. As a result, distance of travel between various points was significantly shortened.

During this period, the following main routes were constructed:[1]

1950s forward

According to the Turkish State Railways, beginning in 1950 the railways of Turkey were ignored and neglected as focus turned to highways.[1] In the early part of the period, the improvement of the roadway system was conceived to support the rail system, but instead of the coordinated building of both road and rail structures intended, railroad constructed slowed dramatically. In the 1980s, the national transportation plan "1983-1993 Transportation Interim Planning" was adopted with a goal in part of decreasing highway transportation share from 72% to 36%, but the plan was abolished in 1986 without implementation.[1] In 2002, only 4% of freight transported in Turkey traveled by rail, and only 2% of passenger travel was conducted by rail.[1]

Proposed lines


Timeline of railway investment and construction under the Ottoman Empire

(Notes on investors: O: Ottoman Empire, A: Austria, B: Belgium, F: France, G: Germany, S: Switzerland, UK: United Kingdom, Int'l: International investors; Source: Roth - Dinhobl, p. 188)

Constructed branches
Year of concession length in km construction period initial investors later investors
LINE IN ISOLATION; Köstence (Constanţa today) - Boğazköy (Cernavodă today) 1856 66 1859–1860 UK UK
İzmir-Aydın section 1856 130 1856–1867 UK UK
Aydın-Sütlaç-Çivril section and Sütlaç-Dinar-Eğirdir section 1879/1911 342 1879–1912 UK UK
Tire-Ödemiş section 1882/1911 137 1883–1911 UK UK
LINE IN ISOLATION; Rusçuk (Ruse today) - Varna 1861 224 1863–1866 UK UK
İzmir-Kasaba (Turgutlu) section 1863 93 1863–1866 UK F
İzmir-Bornova section 1863 5 1866 UK F
Kasaba (Turgutlu) - Alaşehir section 1872 76 1872–1875 UK F
Manisa - Soma connection 1888 92 1888–1890 UK F
Alaşehir-Afyon (Afyonkarahisar) section 1884 252 1894–1896 F F
Soma-Bandırma connection 1910 184 1910–1912 F F
ORIENTAL RAILWAY (also famous for the Orient Express)
Istanbul-Edirne section 1868/1869 318 1869–1870 F - B - S - A G
Eastern Rumelia section 1868/1869 386 1872–1888 F - B - S - A G
Salonica-Mitrovica (Kosovska Mitrovica today) section 1868/1869 363 1872–1874 F - B - S - A G
Edirne - Dedeağaç (Alexandroupoli today) section 1868/1869 149 1870–1872 F - B - S - A G
Bosnia section 1868/1869 102 1870–1872 F - B - S - A G
Babaeski- Kırklareli connection 1910 46 1911–1913 F - B - S - A G
Üsküp (Skopje today) - Serbia border connection 1885 131 1885–1887 Int'l Int'l
LINE IN ISOLATION; Mudanya - Bursa (Chemin de Fer Moudania Brousse) 1881 41 1872–1892 O - F - B O - F - B
LINE IN ISOLATION (later connected to Baghdad Railway);
Mersin-Tarsus-Adana Railway
1883 68 1885–1886 UK F
Haydarpaşa-İzmit section (later incorporated to Baghdad Railway) 1871 93 1871–1873 O G
İzmit-Eskişehir-Ankara section (İzmit-Eskişehir section later incorporated to Baghdad Railway) 1888 486 1888–1890 G G
Eskişehir-Konya connection (later incorporated to Baghdad Railway) 1893 445 1893–1896 G G
Arifiye-Adapazarı connection 1898 9 1898–1899 G G
Salonica-Monastir (Bitola today) 1890 219 1891–1894 G G
Dedeağaç-Salonica 1892 508 1892–1896 F F
Konya-Karapınar-Ulukışla section 1898 291 1904–1912 G G
Toprakkale-İskenderun section 1898 59 1904–1912 G G
Islahiye-Resulayn section 1898 453 1911–1914 G G
Baghdad-Samarra section 1898 119 1912–1914 G G

See also



  2. ^ a b c d e f g CUMHURİYET ÖNCESİ YAPILAN VE BUGÜN KULLANILAN DEMİRYOLU HATLARI "Railway lines in the Republic of Turkey and before"
  3. ^


  • Ed. Ralf Roth - Günter Dinhobl (2008). Across the Borders: Financing the World's Railways in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, ISBN 978-0-7546-6029-3.  

External links

Media related to at Wikimedia Commons

  • Trains of Turkey – "A site for the Turkish Railway Enthusiast" Comprehensive information on the Turkish railway system, including historical information.
  • Turkish museum of transport Rahmi : M Koç Museum
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