Turkey’s Minister of Transport and Infrastructure, Abdulkadir Uraloğlu, recently highlighted the significant strides made in the country’s railway sector during the “167th Anniversary Events of TCDD” held at Ankara YHT Station.
He emphasized the historical importance of railways, which have been a witness to the nation’s joys, sorrows, separations, and reunions since the first rail was laid on the İzmir-Aydın line in 1856.
Uraloğlu noted that the railways entered a period of stagnation in the 1950s but regained prominence as a state policy under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the AK Party governments. Over the past two decades, approximately 880 billion lira have been invested in the railways, renewing and overhauling the entire network. He stated, “We have made significant investments, improvements, and development initiatives, revitalizing our railways and shedding their dormant state.”
The construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway Line, a crucial component of the ‘One Belt One Road Initiative’ aimed at reviving the historic Silk Road, has established a seamless railway connection between Asia and Europe, creating a secure, short, and economical international railway corridor from London to Beijing, in conjunction with the Marmaray.
Record Passenger Numbers in 2023
Uraloğlu drew attention to the number of passengers transported by railways, “Since 2009, we have transported approximately 77.5 million passengers with high-speed trains. We anticipate setting a historic record by transporting 12.5 million passengers in 2023.”
He emphasized the significance of the “One Belt One Road Project” for Turkey, serving as a pivotal connection point between Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. The project is seen as a golden opportunity to complete missing transport links within the country on the east-west and north-south axis, making the Middle Corridor the “New Silk Road.”
The Marmaray, along with the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway Line, has facilitated uninterrupted railway transportation between continents, with approximately 1.5 million tons of cargo transported to date. Uraloğlu continued, “With this line, we operate reciprocal freight trains from Turkey to various points in Europe, including Bulgaria, Hungary, Germany, Austria, Poland, Romania, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Serbia, and France, and to Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan in the east, Russia in the north, and Georgia, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and China in Central Asia.”
Uraloğlu emphasized the strengthening of the transport network and the freight transport sector with new destinations in the railways. He mentioned the increasing transports between Turkey and Iran, aiming to reach 1 million tons in the initial phase.
He also touched upon the Zengezur Corridor, stating, “This is not only important for Nakhchivan’s transportation with Azerbaijan but also for all Turkic states with its young and dynamic population of 160 million and an economy exceeding 1 trillion dollars. The realization of the Zengezur Corridor connection, which will provide direct railway and road transportation between Turkey and Azerbaijan, will actually connect the entire Turkic world.”
Uraloğlu concluded by expressing his gratitude to all railway workers who have dedicated their lives to the service and conveyed his belief that the celebrations would be grand, fitting the Republic’s 100th anniversary.
TCDD General Manager Hasan Pezük also emphasized their commitment to providing better services and contributing to the country’s development. After the speeches, pianist and composer Tuluyhan Uğurlu presented a piano recital.
In conclusion, Turkey’s railway sector has undergone a transformative journey, evolving from historical routes to modern connectivity, playing a pivotal role in regional strategic positioning and economic cooperation.