Since its foundation, the Turkish Republic, even in the periods of economic depression, has placed particular importance to the development of transportation system. An inadequate and underdeveloped transportation system was taken over from the Ottoman State.

Sponsor Bağlantılar

This inadequate and underdeveloped transportation network could not withstand the destructive effects of long wars. Furthermore, majority of the railroads and land roads that the Ottoman State had built with great sacrifices were in the lands lost in the Balkan Wars and the First World War.

Priority has been given to rail transportation policy of the Republic of Turkey. Because of the construction and operation of railways in the Imperial period, foreign investors in Anatolia and Rumelia had been effective. Therefore, the primary goal of the founders of the Republic, as a national state was to nationalize the railways in the hands of foreign enterprises, and then to open new lines. The railways were also highly valued by the founder of the Turkish Republic, Atatürk during the early times of the Turkish Republic as valued during the Ottoman rule. However, these policies were followed under the light of national policies, not in the shadow of the Western imperialism. The population began to travel around the country thanks to the construction of the north-south and the east-west railway lines. The railways had a significant role in the improvement of the economy and shaping of the national consciousness.

When Turkish Republic was declared in 29.10.1923, approximately 4.136 km. of the lines that were built and operated by various foreign companies remained within the national borders of the new State. These lines were nationalized by Law No: 506 , passed on 24.05.1924 and “General Directorate of Anatolian-Baghdat Railways” was established. Following Law No: 1042 passed on 31.05.1927 the name was changed to “General Administration of State Railways and Ports” in order to unite the railway construction and operational activities under one authority and to broaden the scope of functioning.


Transportation services, defined as activities enabling the conveyance of the people and the goods in purpose of fulfilling the needs and requirements by making the most of time and space (Barda, 1964: 5), are the key elements of the economic, social and cultural activities. Railways which emerged as a new way of transport as a result of mass production during the industrialization process has played a significant role especially in carrying heavy and bulky goods such as coal, iron and steel in a cheaper, faster and more organized way (Kaynak, 2002: 24). The important role of railway in transportation lasted until the World War I after which it notably decreased with the development of automotive industry and highways’ flexibility and door to door delivery capabilities (Kaynak, 2002: 25). Since 1835, when it first began to be run in the World, the railway has extremely improved but come to a stand after the rapid development within highway. However, against the petrol depression in 1973 and the years following, railway transport came into prominence again with regard to its supremacy in public transportation and savings in electricity.

In developed countries, railways gained importance with the prevalence of essential products like machine, coal, iron and steel during the industrialization process. At that period, a breakthrough occurred in railway construction since railways could carry that kind of bulky and heavy loads by the cheapest means and with high demands of carriage could contribute to the development of many other sectors, as well. The fact that railway was considered as the preeminent means of transport by the imperialist European states, the Ottoman Empire and even the new Republic was highly important. Nevertheless, the choice of building railway during the empire period wasn’t according to a plan made for determining the economic and social needs of the country but instead especially to the supply and demands of European funds. In the 19th century, railway was the foremost mode of transport all around the world.

Western countries specialized in railway construction made every effort to market the technology. This was because those countries required railways first to carry their agricultural products, over and underground treasures away to ports and then to countries, and second to transfer its own manufactured goods intensively in a short period of time with less budget. The railway adventure in the Ottoman Empire commenced with England’s attempts following the completion of its railway revolution to secure the roads stretching out to its colonies from Baghdad-Basra to India and Asia.

Besides Baghdad and Hedjaz railway projects, Ottoman Empire brought up the building of various rail lines to the agenda at that time as a result of the privileges given to Western countries. Therefore, numerous other projects such as Istanbul Bosphorus, Istanbul-Sivas-Baghdad, and Istanbul-Danube-Adriatic, Middle East railway, Afyon-Antalya and Trabzon-Erzurum routes fell through. While the strategic effects of not having completed these remarkable projects such as the Railway Bridge planned to be built on Istanbul Bosphorus in particular and Pressel’s Anatolia Railway Project emerged in a short period of time, the effects in political and social life had long-lasting consequences.

In the Ottoman State, English, French and German were given railway privileges and each had their own domains. Whereas France had its own area of impact in Northern Greece, Western and Southern Anatolia together with Syria, England had domains in Romania, Western Anatolia, Iraq and Persian Gulf, and Germany in Thrace, Central Anatolia and Mesopotamia. Through industrial revolution, Western investors built the railway which was a very important and strategic mode of transport in order to transport valuable mines and agricultural products which were the raw materials of the textile industry to ports and later to their own countries by the fastest way possible. Additionally, they extended the railway construction works by taking privileges such as profit guarantee over each km, and working out mines within the 20 km area of the railway. Therefore, railway lines built in Ottoman territories and its pass routes were manipulated in line with the political and financial benefits of these countries (TCDD 2012a: 2-3).

Railway construction in Turkish Republic was different from Ottoman in that it was realized in the light of national policies. Through national policies adopted during that time, connection was provided considerably among main routes and non-profit railways from the time of Ottoman Empire were closed whereas profitable routes were nationalized by purchasing from foreigners. Thus, railways that enabled the revival of economic life had an important role in shaping the national awareness as well. On the other hand, some railway lines designed during Atatürk Period, when fresh Republic of Turkey had just survived War of Independence and lost a considerable part of its active population in wars, couldn’t be built because of investments done in other parts of the development, financial matters, and political reasons. Following the death of Atatürk, present projects were abandoned dramatically as a result of the approaching World War II and the subsequent Marshall Plan of the USA after the war. Indeed highways transportation came into prominence.


During Ottoman Empire, İzmir-Aydin and İzmir-Buca railway lines were given to English companies against great privileges in 1856.  As for the Germans, they were vigorous advocate of railways and aimed at being on the possession of untouched virgin soils, underground treasures and agriculture products through the planned Mersin-İskenderun-Basra railway route which would stretch out to Persian Gulf. In 1888, as a result of the agreement made with Germans, 15.000 franc
profit was guaranteed for each km and the money was decided to be paid through the taxes collected by Ottoman Public Debt Administration. Within the frame of the agreement, the possession of the state soils, where the railway was to be built, would be given to grant holders free of charge and no rent was to be paid on the soils where buildings would to be constructed. What’s more, sand and gravel pits together with mines were to be used at no cost, and woods were to be cut from the state forests. Additionally, the 20 km area around the railway line would be open for any kind of underground mine exploration works and archeological excavations to reveal artifacts. Known as Berlin-Baghdad-Basra route, this route was 3773 km long. Ottoman Empire had paid 4.080.000 gold coins for km compensation of this route until 1911. After the War of Independence, 4.060 km long railway line under the concession of foreign companies was nationalized (Çakar, 2003:26).

18.335 km of road were inherited to the Turkish Republic from the Ottoman Empire. 13.885 km of this road were wrack and ruin while 4.450 km were earth road (Mendol, 1985, c:10). A very inadequate and underdeveloped transportation system was taken over from the Ottoman State. This inadequate and underdeveloped transportation network could not withstand the destructive effects of long wars. Furthermore, majority of the railroads and land roads that the Ottoman State had built with great sacrifices were in the lands first lost in the Balkan Wars and after in the First World War. Since the construction and operation of railways were in the hands of foreign investors to a great extent, Turkish Republic had given particular significance to its transportation policy since its early years.

The beginning date of the Republican Turkey’s railway politics dated back to the start of the national railway politics in War of Independence in 1920s (Erem, 1938: 831-837). After the opening of The Grand National Assembly of Turkey (GNAT), with the decision of GNAT Cabinet Council, railways were seized and then connected to Anatolian Railways Ministry of Public Works in 18th of July. Railway Line Inspection was established after connecting “Anatolian Railways to Ministry of Public Works” with the Council of Ministers’ decision in 18th of July and especially military personnel took charge in it (Arslan, 2010: 56). Thereafter, a new administrative order was attempted to be established in the railways seized subsequently.  

During the War of Independence, road affairs were held in accordance with the law no. 102 passed on 21th of February which was called Law in Road Pecuniary Charge. Together with this law, road works started under the scope of the article no. 78, paragraph no. 1 as stated in Law in Special Provincial Administration with the date of 13th March 1329/1911 which was originated at the time of Constitutional Monarchy. This law determined and defined the responsibilities of provinces in Public Works. The following article was taken from this law:

In all around the Ottoman Empire, except the main roads whose opening, closing and repair are under the responsibility of Ministry of Public Works; the construction and maintenance of cities, towns, villages, interconnected roads and bridges which are under the charge of the state together with the maintenance of the main and state roads coming up to the city and town parts are under the responsibility of the ministry and the state mentioned.”(B.D., 1938:29).

In the following years, this law turned out to be insufficient and in line with the Road Works Act no. 5543 dated as 19th of January, a legal obligation was put into practice. With regard to the 1st article of the act; “All male population of the country aged from 18 to 60 are subject to working in road construction. However, those who can prove their disability, students and military and gendarmerie men under arms are exempt. Moreover, those who have 6 children alive are exempt, as well.” Along with the conviction of working in road constructions, the planning of 6 days and 5 years long road projects was also decided to be done by provinces. Thereby, road construction plans slightly commenced (İnan, 1988: 303-304).

After Istanbul was conquered (16th of March, 1920), national government started to run the railway lines in Anatolia. These railway lines included 926 km long Anatolia line starting from Büyükderbend, one part of 326 km long Baghdad line from Konya to Gelebe, and 223 km long line from İzmir-Kasaba with the extension line to Afton-Uşak. For management of the railways under the control and supervision of the military, Military Boundary Inspectorships were established. Meanwhile, Anatolia-Baghdad Railways Directorship was set up (Yıldırım,   2001: 63). (Mr. Hakkı Behiç took charge as the manager in this institute between the dates 01.12.1921-1926.) In accordance with the law no. 448 dated as 7th of April 1920, Adana-Diyarbakır-Ergani line was agreed to be built keeping it 75 cm wide and with the law no. 449, Samsun-Sivas and Ankara-Musaköy line, too (B.D., 1938: 16-24).  In 26th of August 1920, Baghdad part of Anatolia line together with Toros and Afyon-Uşak parts were connected to the above-mentioned directorship (Yavuz, 1983: 184-185).

Ghazi Mustafa Kemal, mentioned his opinions on the public works actuated in the year 1921 and on the policies as the foreman of the state and the government on 1st of March 1922 session of Grand National Assembly in this way: “Gentlemen, when it’s time, let me explain my thoughts on the public works done. By means of preferring the most appropriate option; construction, installment and management of our local and general resources will be actualized as public works to satisfy the needs of the nation. However, benefiting from foreign capitals and specialists in construction and installation of public works which are not possible to be actuated with today’s financial power is obligatory for procuring the benefit, interests and welfare of our nation in a short period of time. Meanwhile, from now on, general interests of the workers and the ones in charge will be safeguarded. In the meantime, the acts of The Ministry of Public Works are found appropriate when compared with the level of its constant situation. While current railways are run successfully, transportation and military delivery services are also provided. Some railways and workshops that had been destroyed during military actions by the enemy were repaired and re-established. Construction of a crucial tunnel in Ankara-Sivas railway line was ignored and the line was renewed by building routes around the two other incomplete tunnels.” (A.S.D, 1997: 115). In Public Works Program which was prepared after the proclamation of the republic, construction of a railway network passing the country in the direction from east to west and linking up feeder lines, centers and ports was designed.

For railway construction in 1924, 13 million more liras were allocated in the first Republican budget and decision on starting track laying works was made (Tarih IV, 322). In parallel with the law no. 506 which was accepted on 22nd of April 1924 and put into practice on 24th of 1924, the government wholly took charge of the Haydarpaşa – Ankara – Eskişehir – Konya and Arifiye – Adapazarı together with Haydarpaşa port and dock which was previously run by a temporary administration (Yenigün,   1987: 4-9). On the same date, institute of Turkish State Railways was established but it could enter into service on 1st of June, 1927.

In 1925, with the law no. 625, Kütahya-Tavşanlı and Temdidi railway line; later on 29th of March 1926, with the law no. 787, Kayseri-Ulukışla; afterwards on 6th of April 1926 with the law no. 793,
Fevzipaşa – Malatya – Ergani – Diyarbakır and finally on 25th of December 1926 Irmak – Çankırı – Filyos railway lines were successively agreed to be built (B.D., 1938: 16-24).

On 23rd of May, 1927, in accordance with the law no. 1042 a new institute connected to “Turkish State Railways and Ports Administration” and “The Ministry of Public Works” was established. Since 1st of June, it had become operational after being re-arranged and named as “Turkish State Railways and Ports General Directorship” with regard to the law no. 1483 passed on 30th of May 1929 (Yenigün, 1987: 5).

Figure 1: The Projected Railway Lines in 1928

Resource: TMH 2006/2-3: 25

In 1929, 5144 km long railway line of which 2766 km belonged to the state and 2378 km to foreign companies was operated (Banguoğlu, 1966: 24).

Until 1933, railway tracks stated below were operationalized (Yakup, 1933: 544-545).

1. Kütahya-Balıkesir Railway Track: The construction of this 252 km long track started in 1927 in line with the law no. 625 dated as 16th of April, 1925. Kütahya-Tavsanli part of the railway track opened in 1928, Tavsanli- Değirmisaz in 1930, and Değirmisaz- Balıkesir in 1931. In 1944, the government extended the track with Tavsanli-Tuncbilek feeder line.
2. Boğazköprü-Kardeşgediği Railway Track (172 km)
3. Ankara-Kayseri Railway Track (380 km)
4. Kayseri- Sivas Railway Track (222km)
5. Samsun-Kalın Railway Track (387 km)
6. Fevzipaşa-Ergami-Diyarbakır Railway Track (320 km)
7. Irmak-Filyos-Bakuk Railway Track (286 km)
8. Ankara-Sivas Railway Track (602 km): The building started in the year 1924. The Yerköy-Kayseri part opened in 1927 while Kayseri-Şarkışla and Şarkışla-Sivas part of it came on stream in 1930.
9. Samsun-Sivas Railway Track (380 km): The construction of this railway track connecting the Middle Anatolia to Samsun Port in the Black Sea Region started in 1924. Kavak-Havza part of the track opened in 1927 while Havza-Amasya started to operate in 1927, Amasya-Zile part in 1928, Samsun-Gümrük part in 1929, Zile-Kuduz part in 1930 and lastly Kuduz-Kalın part in 1932.
10. Ulukışla-Boğazköy Railway Track (173 km)
11. Samsun-Çarşamba Coast Railway Track (37 km): The franchise of this track was given to a company founded by a society of gentlemen with a covenant passed on 6th of December, 1923. A 150 km long construction extending from Samsun to Çarşamba and to Terme, from Samsun to Bafra and to Alaçam was ventured. However, only Samsun-Çarşamba part was completed eventually. The construction started on 21th of September in 1925. Starting from 15th of April 1933, it had been operated by State Railways.

In 1936, railway tracks were categorized into 15 economic regions as new and old (Erem, 1938: 836).

A. Old Railway Tracks

1. Old Anatolia Railway Track
2. Old Baghdad Railway Track                                       
3. Old İzmir-Kasaba Railway Track                                
4. Old Aydın Railway Track                                                
5. Old Eastern Railway Track                          
6. Old Mersin-Tarsus-Adana Railway Track
7. Old Erzurum Broad Gauge Railway Track
8. Old Mudanya Narrow Gauge Railway Track
9. Old Erzurum Narrow Gauge Railway Track
10. Samsun-Çarşamba Railway Track

B. New Railway Tracks

1. Afyon-Karakuyu Railway Track
2. Kütahya-Balıkesir Railway Track
3. Ankara-Ulukışla- Zonguldak Railway Track
4. Kayseri-Samsun-Erzincan Railway Track
5. Fevzi-Diyarbakır-Malatya-Çetinkaya Railway Track

Railway Tracks built during years 1933-1938 are those below (B.D., 1948, s.65-66): 

1. Afyon-Karakuyu Railway Track (112 km): The construction started on 1st of April 1933 in line with the law no.  2134 and was put into operation on.
2. Boğazönü-Isparta Railway Track (13 km): It came on stream on 26th of March.
3. Zonguldak-Ereğli Railway Track (45 km)
4. Sivas-Erzurum Railway Track (548 km)
5. Çetinkaya-Malatya Railway Track (143 km): It was put into operation in 1937.
6. Filyos-Zonguldak Railway Track (21 km)
7. Diyarbakır-Iraq Railway Track (159 km): Its construction started on 16th of November 1937. 47 km long Diyarbakır-Bismil part of the track was put into operation on 1st of September 1940.
8. Fevzipaşa-Diyarbakır Railway Track (508 km): Whereas the building of this track started in 1926, it was finally completed in 1935. This track consisted of four parts: Fevzipaşa-Malatya (251 km), Malatya-Yolçatı (95 km), Yolçatı-Diyarbakır (159 km) and Diyarbakır-Kurtalan (158 km).
9. Irmak-Filyos (309 km): The construction commenced in 1926 and terminated in 1935.
10. Ulukışla-Kayseri Railway Track (172 km)
11. Hekimhan-Çetinkaya Railway Track (69 km)

Besides these railway tracks, there were other tracks purchased from companies by the state (Onur, 1958: 61):

1. Mersin-Adana Railway Track (68 km): 31th of December 1928
2. Bursa-Mudanya Railway Track: 5th of May 1931
3. Samsun-Çarşamba Coast Railway Track (36 km): It was purchased on 15th of April1933 and put into operation in accordance with the law no. 2215 since 15th of May by State Railways.
4. Baghdad Railway Track: This track which had been operated by France for long years was given to the “Turkish Southern Railways Corporation” for 15 years in relation to the law no. 2401 passed in 1934. Those parts of the track were purchased on the stated dates: Ankara-Fevzipaşa track; Çobanbey-Nusaybin track on 27th of April 1931; Fevzipaşa-Meydanıekbez track 1st of July 1937; Şenyurt-Mardin track on 1st of June 1937; Derbesiye-Mardin track in 1948; and Toprakkale-Payas-İskendurun.
5. İzmir-Kasaba and the Extension: It was annexed by the State Railways on 1st of June, 1934 in line with the law no. 2487.
6. Aydın Railway: It was bought on 1st of June, 1935 in line with the law no. 2745 and given to the State Railways with the law no. 2764.
7. Toprakkale-Payas: In the year 1937
8. Eastern Railways: It started to be operated in 1888 and operational rights of the part (338 km long İstanbul-Edirne, Alpullu-Kırklareli railway track) that remained within the boundaries of the country were transferred to Turkish Eastern Railways Corporation in 1931.  Afterwards, that right was given to State Railways in accordance with the law no. 3156 that was passed in 1997.

Table 1: Railways Built by the State between the Years 1924-1940

Resource: Günçan, 1992:68.

As one could easily realize, taking into consideration the situation in the years when the railway policy was determined, and keeping in mind the purposes such as national defense and bringing the authority of the state to each and every part of the country as fast as possible, railway construction in the first years of the Turkish Republic extremely developed and surrounded the nation from near and far with networks made of steel. Since the establishment of the republic, railway construction was adopted as a national policy and building new railway tracks each year was thought to contribute to the cultural and socio-economic development of the country.

In addition to the frequent railway building works between the years 1923-1945, workshops and factories related to railways were rapidly established and most importantly, railway schools were opened as a result of the need for recruiting qualified workforce by railway companies. Railroad Schools in Istanbul and Konya in 1923 together with Railway Repair Workshops in Sivas and Eskişehir were the most significant indications of the rapid actuation of planned policies. Afterwards, Vocational Railway High School was opened in Ankara in 1942. This school was closed twice until 1974, but opened again in Eskişehir in 1974. The graduates of this school who enrolled the school in very early ages devotedly served for long years. Aforesaid graduates of the school were the real workers who shouldered the real burden of incessantly carrying out the main services such as road, traction, movement, facility and office services of the railway. Vocational school was terminated again in 1994.


In 1950s, with great support of the USA, mentality change occurred in the transportation system of Turkey and subsystem for highways transport was developed. After 1950s, the railway construction was about to terminate as a result of following a transportation policy not compatible with the national interests of the country and focusing totally on highways systems particularly with the financial support and political advices of the USA in planning of the transportation systems and in determining the urgent choice. However, in 1950s, the topic of building strategic roads gained importance especially with the beginning of the Marshall Plan. Within the frame of Marshall Plan, leaving aside the railways, investing on highways was estimated according to the transportation policy imposed on Turkey. The fact that in the beginning, the planning of railways was made by Germans who owned the headmost technology within the Europe while highways were devised by Americans who had the most advanced automotive industry of its time by ignoring the priorities of Turkey and taking into consideration their privileges and military aims was remarkable.

Automotive companies that had come out better off World War II explicitly stated their preference on highways and American Ford, General Motor and American oil monopolies were the ones who vigorously pursued and led this policy. At that time, H.G. Hilts who was the Vice General Director of American Highways came to Turkey with an American Road Committee and prepared a report. In this report it was recommended to; “Benefit from American entrepreneurs undoubtedly in carrying goods by lorry.” Again in the same report, Hilts expressed disapproval for the transport via maritime routes. He took a firm stand on the issue of grating loan to Turkey. At that time, establishment of a locomotive factory related to the State Railways was on the agenda, which Hits didn’t fancy, either.

Thereby, transport policy of Turkey was put under the command of the USA and a change in the policy resulted in alternations in policies regarding the government. “Leadership of Roads and Bridges” that was established in line with the law passed in 1934 in an attempt to “Connect railways stations and ports, and design roads to support railway tracks” segregated from The Ministry of Transportation. Thereafter, General Directorate of Highways connected to the Ministry of Public Works and Settlement was set up. The priority of General Directorate of Highways was to get down to path planning in order to satisfy the “defense alliance” requirements of NATO. Indeed the first planned route was İskenderun-Erzurum road route since it was schemed as a line of supply against the Soviet Union.

As a result of alternations made in the policy of transport after 1950, highways transport gained importance. The years from 1950 to 1970 were the golden era of road construction. The high expenses of investing on substructure and operation of railways accounted for the attractiveness of the substructure invests on highways which could be built with far low expenses. On account of Marshall Plan, the trigger in automotive industry which developed after 1970 and etc. effects, unsteady increase in favor of highways transport when compared to other means of transport occurred in conveyance of goods and passenger by land. At that time, it was highways which had the highest proportion in investments for transport.

Table 2: The Situation in Conveyance of the Goods and Passenger in 1950

Resource: MMO, 2012: 10

In 1960, these percentages started to become reversed.

Table 3: The Situation in Conveyance of the Goods and Passenger in 1960

Resource: MMO, 2012: 10

In 1950, when railway transport percentage was %42 in passenger and %78 in goods; in 1960, it rose up to %48 but a decline occurred in conveyance of goods and it decreased to %24 with a decline rate of %50. In the meanwhile, conveyance of goods by highways mounted up to %73 from %19, by an increase rate of %54.

1960s are the years when new development plans were started to be made for new gains and not losing the already earned ones in the economy of the country. In The First Five-Year Development Plan, fundamental principles relating to transport were evaluated as following:

The technique used for building our railways depends on the old traditional technique. Corrections required by the modern operations couldn’t be done along the roads. From now on, railways will be constructed in line with the techniques and standards suitable for our country’s conditions. Procedures in the encouragement of carrying railways to long distances and with high traffic density parts will be prepared. Furthermore, a distinction will be made between the carrying systems according to the goods.” After the first years of the Republic, these statements indicate the neglect of a stable planning which was required by the conditions of the country between the transport systems. The applied politics solely brought a one-way transport system type to the front.

Particularly in The First Four-Year Development Plan (1979–1983), the following statements were made: “It has been targeted that the increase in domestic railway passenger conveyance to be doubled at the end of the term with an approximate increase rate of %14.3 each year, and domestic conveyance of the goods to be increased by %20.1 each year. In order for the railways to correspond to the demand by the industry in terms of time and space, rearrangement and modernization works together with investments in this area will highly be emphasized.”

Although it wasn’t stated in the 4th plan texts, at the end of this term a 10-year “Main Plan for Transportation” (1983–1993) was prepared and put into practice in 1983 and planned to be revised once in 3 years. The objectives of “Main Plan for Transportation” were not revised in 1986 as it should have been and later in 1993 was abolished totally. In 6th and 7th Term Development Plans, objectives devoted to the improvement of transportation means were placed but an expression with regard to the necessity and preparation of a “Main Plan for Transportation” didn’t take place within the texts.

In 2009, railway transport decreased to %1.6 for passengers and to %5.3 for the goods while conveyance by land increased
from %19 to %91.5 for the goods and to %97.9 for passengers.

According to SPO’s (The State Planning Organization) 2010 Investment Program, domestic railway conveyance of passengers in 2008 when compared to 2007 decreased to %11.2 on the basis of million passengers per km and to %7 in 2009 when compared to 2008. Whereas, domestic railway conveyance of the goods declined to %7.8 on the basis of million ton/km in 2008 when compared to 2007 and to % 8 in 2009 when compared to 2008.  With regard to the 2012 Investment Program, railway conveyance of passengers (domestic) increased by % 0.7 in 2010 when compared to 2009 and by % 10.5 in conveyance of goods (domestic) while it was respectively presumed to be % 14.1 and % 2.7 in 2011. Leaving aside the estimations, one could certainly see that even the planned 3 million 985 thousands of passenger number in 2011 was far below the realized 3 million 999 thousands of passenger number in 2007. Despite the striking increase in the number of investments during the last five years, the reason lying behind the loss of railway passengers should be examined. As regards the data provided by TSR (Turkish State Railways), in 2009 conveyance of the goods in the country is realized by %91.5 through highways, by % 5.3 through railways, % 3.2 through maritime line; while conveyance of passengers by %97.9 through highways, by %1.6 through railways, by % 0.4 through maritime line.

In the Medium Term Plan (MTP) announced in (2010–2012), (2011–2013) and (2012–2014) the following approach was stated: “The fundamental purpose in transport sector is to establish a transport substructure on time by means of keeping the balance between the means of transport and practicing an economic, reliable, environment friendly, rapid, and compatible with the international rules and modern technology mode of transport. The function of transport substructure in a way that complements each other and the extension of combined transportation are fundamental.”

In spite of the positive image presented by these objectives, the indicators for the conveyance of passengers and goods signalize different realities. It is urgently significant that the unstable transport means highly dependent on highways to keep a balance among the modes of transport are to be directed for the benefit of other means of transport.  That’s why, railways should take a bigger part in carrying goods and passengers and investments on railway transport should be accelerated. However, in recent years, high-speed trains are always kept on the agenda by the government in spite of the various substructure problems highlighted whereas kilometers long railway tracks not having been invested on for long years are left to their fates. While it is a mystery to balance modes of transport, not one policy is developed especially regarding the old railway tracks on which conveyance of the goods are realized intensely. As the reason of increase on railway investments, high-speed trains were put into operation without taking any notice of the transport of goods.The share of railways within the public investments was %6 in 2000. A heavy increase in 2003-2006 and a decline after 2007 were observed.

In 2008-2009, a regression in the part of transport and other service sub-sectors within fixed capital public investments occurred. In 2008, %37 of fixed capital public investments was saved for transport while in 2010 Investment Program, fixed capital public investments in transport were estimated to decrease by %33 in 2009 and by %31.9 in 2010.

According to the data of SPO, there were fluctuations in the realization of investments. In 2009, the share of transport in public investments was %29.6, which was below the estimated level while in 2010 a variation occurred in the direction of increase by %43.7. In the data of SPO, a year by year increase in the percentages of fixed capital private investments is noteworthy. Lastly, in 2012 Program, not a serious change is expected to occur in the total share of transport (%25.3) in the investments. However, the decrease by %10 in public investments is followed by an increase by %3 in private investments.

In order to regain the competitive power lost in other transport sectors, high-speed train tracks which were 250 km/h fast were planned to be built through Ankara-İstanbul, Ankara-Konya, Ankara-Sivas, Ankara-İzmir, Bursa-Osmaneli by means of enhancing the routes and opening new corridors devoted to regenerating the competitive conditions.

Transport Corridor Europe-Caucaus-Asia (TRACECA) carried out by EU is an international transport arrangement completing Pan European Transport Corridors. Under the scope of developing new alternative transport corridors for Caucasian and Central Asian Republics on locations centered in Russia on the north and in Iran on the south, TRACE and CA programs started in May of 1993. Through this project, it is estimated that highways and railways which follow the route of Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan-Turkmenistan on Silk Road will connect to Georgia’s Poti and Batum ports via Caspian Sea and over Azerbaijan; and to Pan-European Corridors through passing by Ukraine, Romania, and Bulgaria ports via maritime line.

Within the frame of Railway-Ferry Transport Project to be built between Samsun Port and Kavkaz Port of Russia which are both members of TRACECA, it is aimed that Via constructing a train-ferry line on the Black Sea between Turkey and Russia, the reciprocal transfers with Russia is to be realized through building a bridge between Samsun and Kavkaz (Russian Federation) ports. By means of realizing projects such as Marmaray Project, Ankara-Istanbul High-Speed Train, Kars-Tiflis Projects; an economic, fast, and continuous railway connection from Europe to Asia and from the west to the east will be provided (TCDD, 2011:6-7).

In this context, the works started for the construction of Ankara-Istanbul and Ankara-Konya high-speed rail line. The tender for 288 km long Yerköy-Sivas part of the Ankara-Sivas line was made on 05.05.2008. Later on; Ankara-İzmir, Ankara-Kayseri, and Bursa-Osmaneli lines were decided to pass on to high-speed rail line operations, as well. Marmaray Project is related with the enhancement of Bosphorus Sub-sea Rail Tunnel and approximately 76 km long suburban line lying between Halkalı and Gebze. In accordance with Marmaray Project, rail lines on the both continents will be connected via a rail tunnel passing under Istanbul Bosphorus. Bosphorus sub-sea rail tunnel rises to the surface in Söğütlüçeşme after going underground in Yedikule, continuing through Yenikapı and Sirkeci underground stations, and connecting to Üsküdar underground station via passing under Bosphorus. Ankara-İstanbul High-Speed Rail Line: With the completion of Ankara-Istanbul Line that started to be built on 08.06.2003, the distance between Ankara and Istanbul will decrease to 533 km and the travel time to 3 hours from 7-8 hours. On 13th of March, 2009 Ankara-Eskişehir track was put into operation. Ankara-Konya High-Speed Rail Line: With the construction of Ankara-Konya line, the journey time between Konya and Ankara will decline to 1 hour 15 minutes, whereas the travel time between Konya and Istanbul will diminish to 3 hours 30 minutes. In the first year of the finished project, approximately 2 million extra passengers are expected to be gained (TCDD, 2012a:38).


During Atatürk Period, transport problem of the Republic was attempted to be solved primarily by means of railways whilst other means of transport remained in the background. In Turkey’s establishment and development years, railway construction wasn’t only recognized as a mode of transport but also as a fundamental element of national defense, economic progress, and socio-cultural
development.  For this reason, a “National and Independent” rail policy free of external effects and giving particular importance to the needs of the country was followed during the years 1923-1938. This policy progress in two ways as one was to build new railway tracks while the other was to purchase the present railways owned by foreign companies for the sake of nationalizing them.

The nationalization of the railways owned by foreign companies was mainly realized through purchases. However, because of the government’s insufficient financial status, these purchases resulted in getting into debt. Nationalized railways during the years 1923-1933, amounts accepted to be paid by the Republic Government on account of ports and privileged organization constituted a significant part of Turkey’s foreign loans at that time.

Railways operated by the government were financed through internal funds. Among these internal funds, usual budget incomes like earnings from taxes were included but loans were also taken for the long railway tracks.  The first long run loan of the Republic was the 12 million Ergani loan (for the construction of Fevzipaşa-Diyarbakır railway track) taken in 1933. This was later followed by the 30 million Sivas loan (for the construction of Sivas-Erzurum railway track) taken in 1934 (Efdal, 2006: 72).

%75 of the railways built in the Republic period were situated on the east of Ankara, while %25 were on the west of Ankara. Except Kütahya-Balıkesir, Tavşanlı-Tunçbilek and Afyon-Burdur railway tracks, all the new railways were built on the east side of Ankara. The old railways had important effects on the construction of new ones (Yıldırım, 2001: 95).

Beginning from 1950s, the rate of emigration to the cities increased as a result of rapid population growth, agricultural mechanization, disorder in the land distribution and rising opportunities of business in the cities. The reason lying behind the emigration of conservative countryside people extremely attached to their homeland and soil was the increasing attractiveness of cities when compared to the opportunity restrictions in their terrain.

Despite the factors effective in the emigration to the cities such as the lively social life, the chances of having a more comfortable life, and existing entertainment centers; the real reason was the economic problems. The people who can easily reach the main cities and return to their neighborhoods won’t need to emigrate at all. Even for work, they will have the chance to shuttle between the cities and very faraway places. Thus, the problems occurring as a result of squatting, irregular urbanization, and flaws in urban services will be prevented.

Whilst railway is the foremost fast mode of transport and carriage after airline in all around developed countries of the world, it is the slowest in our country. Railways undertake more than half part of the transport in the USA and the Europe. Moreover, railways in those countries have reached the point where they are able to compete with the airlines. Airports are outside the cities. Lots of time is spent on trying to reach to the airport whereas railway stations are within the city. By means of high-speed trains, people are now able to reach their destination in an extremely faster way than driving through highways. What’s more, the cost of travelling by railway is far cheaper than the airline. Introduced as the safest mode of travel, airlines have now given rein to the railways putting aside the statistics in the underdeveloped countries where 100-150 years old railway tracks caused many accidents and holding in mind the modern railway transport in places like the USA, Europe and Japan.

As a consequence of Turkey’s mistakes in transport policy, transport by land has been highlighted instead of railway or maritime lines. The fundamental purpose in the transport sector is to build the transport substructure required by the developing economic and social life on time, in an economic and reliable way; and to manipulate the present substructure under the concept of substructure maintenance and renewal by minimizing the alternation costs.

TSR is the one and only official institute that organizes, operates and controls the railway transport in our country. TSR provides service on 10.991 km long railway line in total of which 8.697 km long part is the main line while 2.294 km long part is the secondary line by the end of 2007. 2.274 km long pat of this line is electrical while 3.098 km long part is signaling. Signaling line percentage is %30 in the main line and %19 in the secondary line whereas electrical line percentage is %22 in the main line and %15 in the secondary line. %50 of the total line consists of more than 20 years old rails (TCDD, 2008: 15,18 ,33).

When operation activities of TSR are examined, it is recognized that its share in carrying goods and passengers is incessantly declining year by year. In 2006, railways share in domestic passenger conveyance is %2 while it is %5 in conveyance of the domestic goods (TCDD, 2008:108 ,109). 

As to the financial status of the TSR, it is a public corporation that has been going through constant and vast amounts of loss recently. In 2007, 1.3 billion TL in total was subsidized to TSR from Secretariat of Treasury: 1.1 billion TL for paying the pensions of the personnel and social insurance contributions and 200 million TL for work damage (H.M., 2008: 70). TSR’s turning into an institute whose income can’t compensate for its expenses and its having a tiny share in the transport market substantially result from its being left to fate, from unplanned transport policies and arbitrary government interruptions.

It is highly necessary for increasing the share of railways in the transport sector of the country that railway sector provides a service that can compete with the other modes of transport with its speed, comfort and reliability. There are certain targets aimed at in today’s railway transport. First of all, train services should become fast and organized. However, as a result of insufficient substructure, the possibility of realizing this in short term is highly low. The main purpose in the first phase of building railways was to provide transport to more places. On account of today’s construction and transport technology, the standards of the lines built are not suitable to the current conditions. Maintenance and modernization of these lines should be realized for tailoring the vehicles to the needs of today. Thereby, accelerating the train services by reducing the stops and putting into operation high-speed trains via building new rails are regarded possible. There are big differences in railway transport today compared to earlier times. Therefore, it is significantly important that adjustable seats, more comfortable coaches with sleeping cars and restaurants should be set; special coaches on the shape of conference hall should be produced and put into operation; and international combined transport that enables the long distance conveyances should be encouraged in order to meet the demands.

It is notably significant for the future of transport services that the railway sector in our country will form a structure that can compete with other means of transport and thereby increase its share in transport. For this reason, railway services should be liberalized and enter into rivalry through making reforms in the sector. The priority in the reforms should be given to the separation of substructure and operation, and to the liberalization of the public enterprise. Thus, railway institute will be ready for competing both with the inner-sector and the transport substructures. Applications throughout the world do not indicate a positive effect in separation of the substructure and the operation.
However, disunion is required for the substructure to be accessed. Keeping in mind the sector structure and geographical conditions of our country, both rivalry within the market and rivalry for the market activities should take place in the reforms and the sector should gain a competitive nature.

It is of capital importance that by means of keeping close track of the technological developments in the sector, present facilities and equipment should be renewed in a way to serve contemporarily within the scope of rehabilitation and modernization; facilities and structures planned to be newly built should be evaluated in short, mid and long terms and realized and organized by state of the art and even the future technology. In other words, the whole needs, resources and relations should be assessed within the bounds of planning since providing the best service with the least amount of money is expected from a transport system. Namely, transport systems should be evaluated keeping in mind not only the profit criterion in its narrow sense but also the economic and social criterion including the costs to the country such as energy wastefulness, external dependence, traffic accidents, environmental pollution, noise, etc. effects.

The main reason lying behind the railway’s lacking in significance and idle position is foreign-dependent transport policies. Unfortunately, transition to the right transport system won’t be possible until transport policies that downgrade railway and maritime lines by means of expending resources on highways and thereby on international petrol and automotive monopolies are abandoned.


ARSLAN, Mukaddes, (2010), “Milli Mücadele Tarihimizde Demiryolları ve Demiryolcular”, Cumhuriyet Devrinde Demiryolları Sempozyumu, Yay. Haz. Mukaddes Arslan, s.47-82, Ankara.
BANGUOĞLU, Emin, (1966),  “Ulaştırma Politikası Dersleri”, İzmir.
BARDA, Süleyman, (1964), “Münakale Ekonomisi”, İ.Ü. İktisat Fakültesi Yayını, No:154,Akgün Matbaası, İstanbul.
BAYINDIRLIK DERGİSİ (B.D.), (Ekim 1938), “Nafıa Vekâleti’nin Kuruluşundan İtibaren Bugüne Kadar Geçirdiği Muhtelif karakteristik Devirleri”, Yıl:5, , s.16-24
BAYINDIRLIK DERGİSİ (B.D.), (Aralık 1948), “Demiryolları”,  s.65
ÇAKAR, Ali Ekber,  (2003),  “Değişim Sürecinde Kamu Hizmetleri ve Küreselleşmenin Demiryolu Politikalarına Etkileri”, TMMOB Makine Mühendisleri Odası, Değişim Sürecinde Kamu Hizmetleri ve Küreselleşmenin Demiryolu Politikaları Sempozyumu 13 Mart 2003, Özkan Matb. Ltd. Sti., Ankara.
DPT (Devlet Planlama Teşkilatı), (2004), “2004 Türkiye iktisat Kongresi Çalışma Grubu Raporları – II”, Ankara.
EFDAL, As, (2006), “Cumhuriyet Dönemi Ulaşım Politikaları(1923-1960)”, DEÜ, Atatürk İlkeleri ve İnkılâp Tarihi Enstitüsü, Basılmamış Doktora Tezi, İzmir.
ETE, Muhlis, (1938), “Münakalat”, İstanbul.
EREM, E.R., (Ekim1938),  “Cumhuriyet 15, Devlet Demiryolları 11 yaşında” Demiryolları Dergisi, , sayı:164-165, s.831-837.
GÜNÇAN, Ömer Kamil, (1992), “Demiryollarının Ülke Stratejisine ve Ekonomisine Etkinliği”, Ankara.
HAZİNE MÜSTESARLIĞI (H.M.),(2008), “Kamu İktisadi Teşebbüsleri Genel Müdürlüğü 2007 Kamu İsletmeleri Raporu”, Ankara.
KAYNAK, Muhteşem (2002). “Yeni Demiryolu Çağı, Yüksek Hızlı Trenler ve Türkiye”, Ekonomik Yaklaşım, Cilt:13 Sayı: 42–43, Ankara.
MENDOL, Arif, (1985),  “Cumhuriyet Dönemi Ulaşım Modelleri”, Cumhuriyet Dönemi Türkiye Ansiklopedisi, Cilt:10,  İstanbul.
İNAN, Afet, (1988),  “Medeni Bilgiler”, Ankara.
İNÖNÜ, İsmet, (1987),  “Hatıralar”, c:II, İstanbul.
İZBIRAK, Reşat, (1996), “Türkiye-II”, İstanbul.
TARİH IV, (1934), İstanbul.
TEKELİ, İlhan,- SELİM İlkin, (1985),  “Türkiye’de Ulaştırmanın Gelişimi”, Cumhuriyet Dönemi Türkiye Ansiklopedisi, c:X, , s. 2758-2768, Ankara.
TCDD (Türkiye Cumhuriyeti Devlet Demiryolları İşletmesi Genel Müdürlüğü), (2008), “Türkiye Cumhuriyeti Devlet Demiryolları İstatistik Yıllığı 2003–2007”, http://www.tcdd.gov.tr/ Son erişim tarihi: 01.05.2013
TCDD (Türkiye Cumhuriyeti Devlet Demiryolları İşletmesi Genel Müdürlüğü), (2011),   “Demiryolu Sektör Raporu 2011”, http://www.tcdd.gov.tr/, Son erişim tarihi: 01.05.2013
TCDD (Türkiye Cumhuriyeti Devlet Demiryolları İşletmesi Genel Müdürlüğü), (2012a), “Stratejik Plan 2010-2014”,   http://www.tcdd.gov.tr/, Son erişim tarihi: 01.05.2013
TCDD (Türkiye Cumhuriyeti Devlet Demiryolları İşletmesi Genel Müdürlüğü), (2012b), “Türkiye Cumhuriyeti Devlet Demiryolları İstatistik Yıllığı 2007–2011”, http://www.tcdd.gov.tr/, Son erişim tarihi: 01.05.2013
TMH  (Türkiye Mühendislik Haberleri) , Sayı 442-443 – 2006/2-3
ONUR, Ahmet, (1958), “Türkiye Demiryolları Tarihi”, İstanbul.
ULAŞTIRMA BAKANLIĞI, (2007), “Ulaşımdan İletişime Kalkınan Türkiye 2003–2007”, Ankara.
YAKUP, H., (Ekim 1933),  “Cumhuriyet Hükümetinin 10 Sene İçinde Anayurda Döşediği Yollar” Demiryolları Dergisi, ,sayı:1044-105, s.544-545.
YAVUZ, Ünsal., (1983),  “Askeri Strateji Bakımından Türkiye’deki Demiryolları”,I.Askeri Tarih Semineri/Bildiriler II, s.184-185, Ankara.
YAVUZ, Ünsal, (2010),  “Cumhuriyet Devri Demiryolu Politikasına yaklaşım Biçimi”, Cumhuriyet Devrinde Demiryolları Sempozyumu, Yay. Haz. Mukaddes Arslan, s.83-90, Ankara.
YENİGÜN, Mehmet Emin, (Mayıs 1987), “1856’dan 1987’ye Demiryollarımız/Türkiye’de Demiryolları Ulaşımının Tarihi”, Demiryolları Dergisi, sayı:736, s.4-9.
YILDIRIM, İsmail, (2001),  “Cumhuriyet Döneminde Demiryolları (1923-1950)”, Atatürk Araştırma Merkezi Yayınları, Ankara.
YILDIRIM, Seyfi, (2010), “Cumhuriyet Devri Demiryollarının Gelişiminde Etkili Olan Faktörler”, Cumhuriyet Devrinde Demiryolları Sempozyumu, Yay. Haz. Mukaddes Arslan, s.93-100, Ankara.