Light rail and subways in Turkey
(Warning: this page is already bit outdated! To be revised soon)
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This web site could not be complete without a few words about urban transit. Indeed, the past ten years had been very rich in light rails and metro projects. These projects are the proof that rail is still alive and that major projects can still be completed in reasonable time in Turkey.
Turkish urban transit is well documented on the Internet. Therefore, my purpose is only to give some basic historical facts and some pictures not otherwise on line. For advanced information, I recommend a visit to Metroplanet of to Subway.net. These excellent sites keep detailed track of facts regarding Turkish cities and provide a whole load of links.
In the old days, the 19th century that is, only Istanbul and Izmir citizens could enjoy ridding a tramway. But just like most west Europeans counterparts, these networks fell out of fashion and were scrapped in the 1950's.
Until about 1990, Turkey had absolutely no rail urban transit system. This was an anachronism when Istanbul was already in the vicinity of 10 million inhabitants, and several other cities had passed the 1 million souls threshold. At this time, lots of cities started addressing their transportation problems and prepared master plan based on rail backbone and bus feeders. Very pragmatic projects were started quickly and finished successfully. A decade later, in 2000, several cities had lines up and running. Many more projects are in the pipe and the next decade should see yet more cities with rail systems.
The following cities have on going projects for urban transit systems:
Adana metro is under construction. The phase 1 includes a 13 stations line from Akıncılar to Hastane.
Ankara has now two lines crossing each other in a big exchange station at Kizilay, the city business center. The second stage of the project will see an extension of second line.
The Bursa metro is under construction. These new lines revive the memory of the ill fated " Moudania Brousse Railway", a narrow gauge line that once existed in Bursa.
The following text about the Brousse Mudyana Railway is quoted from "Steam in Turkey" by E.Talbot:
This short line was another project initiated by the Ottoman Government in the 1870s in an attempt to establish railways without granting concessions to foreign companies. On 14th August 1871 the government authorised the construction of a railway from Mudanya, a port on the Sea of Marmara, across the fertile coastal plain to the provincial capital of Bursa. Later, the concession was extended to Bozüyük. The construction work was at first undertaken by the government itself but was frequently held up for lack of capital; in 1874 it was taken over by two French contractors who pushed the line forward and reached Bursa, a distance of 26 miles, the following year. The extension to Bözüyük, 31 miles west of Eskişehir and later a station on the CFOA, was never built, and the completed section remained unopened. It is alleged that the locomotives were of the wrong gauge and that the track was badly laid and distorted by frost during the severe winter. The Yorkshire Engine Company 0-6-Os delivered to this line were apparently 1100 mm gauge, but what the original gauge of the line was, if it was different from this, is not known.
However that may be, on 2nd January 1891 George Nagelmackers paid £27,000 for the existing track and materials, and undertook to open the line. In August he formed the Chemin de fer de Moudania-Brousse, the Société des Batignolles rebuilt the line to a gauge of one metre and on 17th July 1892 it opened. If the CFOA had used its concession to build a branch to Bursa, the Mudanya-Bursa Railway might have been more prosperous; but as things were, it was never more than a barely profitable local railway. It was taken over by the TCDD in 1932 and was closed by 1948.
This 42 km line ran from the Mudanya harbor where the train offered direct connection with the boat from Istanbul. The line ran on the east of the (modern) road and entered Bursa from the east after passing Çekirge. The line ran around the northern side of Bursa and the terminal station was located next to crossing of Mahmudiye Caddesi and Inönu Caddesi. This location was conveniently chosen to extend the line towards Bözüyük. (See the 1911 maps of Bursa in the maps section).
The Bursaray now being rebuilt is only a distant cousin of the Moudania-Brousse Railway. Since 1948, Bursa grew very much and increased its position as one of Turkey most industrial city. Bursaray is not going as far as Mudanya, however some of its alignments in Bursa are not far from the old line. Bursaray is in fact getting nearer to the city center thanks to a tunnel.
The construction works of the first LRT line in Eskişehir started in March 2002. The project is financed by the European Investment Bank and has been awarded on a turnkey basis contract to Bombardier and Yapi Merkezi. The overall contract is valued at 140m euro.
The project includes two lines for a total of 14,5 km crossing at Çarsı, in the city center:
Rolling stocks includes 18 LRV.
Its is little known outside of Istanbul that this city used to have a brilliant tramway network. The first line started in 1871 as part of a 4 lines concession to "Société des Tramways de Constantinople". The network was quickly expanded to cover most of Constantinople (now the European side of Istanbul). The carriages were horses drawn as done at that time and running on meter gauge track. The tramway network was electrified by overhead contact wire in 1911. All the lines were crossing the Golden Horn on the famous Galata Bridge, which was acting as the central connection point.
The Asian side of Istanbul had to wait until 1928 and the creation of the "Üsküdar Kadıdöy Halk Tramwayları (ÜKHT) by the Republic to have a tramway line.
The tramway companies diversified into electric distribution and bus operation. This was often the case as the companies could easily use their electric engineering competencies to build power networks. Istanbul public transportation was nationalized in 1939, and the new company Istanbul Electrik, Tramway ve Tünel İşletmeIeri (İETT) took over both European and Asian networks.
The tramway had very little upgrade and basically the 1911 electric cars were still running in the 1960's. These vehicles looked outdated compared to the new cars and buses that were now on the streets. The tramway had little comfort and was slow because it was caught in the traffic jam caused by the cars. The tracks were also outdated, noisy and in the middle of the street. Cars had to pass the tramway on the right, causing danger for the pedestrians boarding and alighting the tramway.
For all these reasons (and others), the tramway felt out of fashion and was closed in Istanbul. Line closure started in 1958 and the last car ran on 12 August 1961 on the European side, on the 14 November 1966 on the Asian side.
A postcard showing heavy tram traffic on Galata Bridge in 1919.
In 1990, Istanbul City rebuilt a small stretch of meter track from Tünel upper station to Taksim. It is a single line, about 1 km long with a passing loop in the middle. Original rolling stock, which had been preserved, has been refurbished and is used on this line. It is funny to notice that local people are ridding this line although it is intended for the tourist. And children are still ridding on the buffers, as they already did at the beginning of the century.
Istanbul is running also an underground funicular dubbed "Tünel". Tünel was opened in 1875 and climbs an altitude of 60m for a 573m line. The funicular cars were renovated in the 1960's, on a design based on Paris subways (including car colors and warning bells).
Since 1989, Istanbul has three lines, each of a different type:
The new tramway is of a modern design: grade separated on most of the way, standard gauge track with new ABB cars.
Izmir built a very realistic project, using former TCDD right of way for a part of the line from Halkapınar to Bornova. This old TCDD line was fully rebuilt to modern standard for the fraction of the coast of a new line. Further metro extensions are likely to use TCDD tracks again.
(*), each car has 6 axles and is articulated. The outer bogies are powered by DC motors
Konya choose a tramway option, with the additional requirement to procure as much as possible locally, thus halving the cost of the project. To make further savings, the second hand rolling stock from Germany was purchased.
Type: Duewag articulated 3 cars sets, manufactured in 1963 / 65; 4 bogies (8 axles), former owner: KVB (Köln transport)
Last updated: 1 April 2002