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ITE Transport and Logistics

Paving the way - what Turkish infrastructure spending means for transport & logistics

Turkey’s geographic location already provides the nation with natural transport links. Massive investment in infrastructure, however, is turning Turkey into the region’s premier logistics and trade hub. 
Billions of dollars is being poured into updating roads, rail, sea and air links, falling under the umbrella of the Turkey 2023 initiative. The question is, which projects are most advantageous to international transport firms? What does this deluge of government spending mean for logistics in the region?
Istanbul New Airport sends air freight capacity sky high
Istanbul is already served by two major airports, with Istanbul Ataturk Airport located on the European side of the Bosphorus and Sabiha Gocken acting as its Asian counterpart, but a third major facility is being built.
This new airport will become one of the biggest in the world and is set to increase air freight volumes passing through Turkey considerably. For context, the volumes of international air cargo handled by Turkey’s airports each year stands at around 1.9 million tonnes. It is predicted that the $11 billion Istanbul New Airport will have the capacity to accommodate 5.5 million tonnes of freight annually. 
At present, Ataturk Airport processes 47% of Turkey’s air cargo. Antalya Airport sees 29% of air freight pass through it with while another Istanbul airport, Sabina Gocken, handles 9%.
Turkey’s new major airport will be operational by 2018. Once completed, it is expected that this will transform Turkey into a vital air freight stop. Cargo values are likely to soar beyond the present annual totals of around $24 billion. Air freight operators’ attention will very much be focussed on the new airport’s progression as it will cement Turkey’s place as the region’s leading air cargo hub.
Tunnelling towards a stronger logistics position
While the new airport at Istanbul will prove vital in dispersing international cargoes across Turkey and the surrounding region, the nearby road links are in need of an update. The Bosphorus, redolent with history and strategic significance, acts as a major natural barrier for land transport. Crossing the waterway has never been easy. Not only does the river measure 3.5 kilometres at its widest point, but the Bosphorus is one of the world’s busiest shipping channels.
Advances in tunnelling equipment, however, is pointing towards the completion of one of Turkey’s many megaprojects: creating a double-decker road tunnel beneath the Bosphorus sea channel. The tunnel forms part of a greater 14.6 kilometre highway along the Marmara coast, close to the main Ataturk airport. Once completed, operations are expected to begin in 2017, 120,000 vehicles will pass through the tunnel each day.
Creating strong road links between its largest airports and the rest of Turkey will have a positive effect for road transport in the country. Greater efficiency, reduced costs and faster delivery times are likely to be the results of the tunnel’s construction. 
The building of the new sub-Bosphorus route plays into a greater programme of road building underway by the Turkish government. By 2023, the nation hopes to increase the length of its highway network considerably. 
Currently, Turkey’s total road network stands at roughly 2,200 km. By 2023, it is hoped to measure 9,600 km. As road freight holds the majority modal share of 87%, all updates to Turkey’s motorway network will drastically improve the efficiency, cost and trade per kilometre volumes for domestic and international trucking firms alike.
Turkish rail links to grow considerably by 2023
One critical area of infrastructure spending in Turkey is the updating and construction of new rail networks. By 2023, the network will total 26,000 kilometres and will form a crucial link between Western and Northern European markets to China and the Far East.
An estimated $17.65 billion has been pumped into Turkish railways since 2003. However, the network is currently un-optimised and inefficient. Less than 5% of all freight by volume travels by train. Through building new rail lines and opening up the network to private firms for the first time in history, Turkey’s government hopes to bump rail freight’s market share to 15% by 2023. 
Building updated links is already underway. A new freight corridor linking Liyanungang in North-East China to Istanbul was put into operation in January 2016. Rail cargo levels have already seen an increase in rail cargo levels. Indeed, Chinese-Turkish cooperation is ensuring Turkey takes pride of place in China’s new Silk Road project. For example, a $30 billion high speed network, linking the Turkish cities of Edirne and Kars, is being developed by the two countries.
While it isn’t necessarily linked to infrastructure construction, it should be noted that Turkish State Railways (TCDD) is allowing private freight operators to Turkey’s rail network for the first time. This privatisation initiative opens up vast opportunities for international freight operators – especially given the vast number of countries and markets accessible via Turkey. 
Expect a surge in rail cargo volumes in the near future.
Bigger infrastructure spending means better trade opportunities in Turkey
If the levels of infrastructure investment remain high, until at least 2023, then it is likely transport and logistics opportunities will increase in Turkey. Freight volumes will increase as transport links ensure Turkey remains a vital international and regional logistics hub. 


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