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ITE Transport and Logistics

Turkey rail liberalisation: who will be the first private train operator?

Liberalisation is sweeping across Turkey’s rail sector currently – heralding a new wave of buying and procurement in the rolling stock market. It has been in the pipeline for some time, but, in 2016, TCDD pushed ahead with measures allowing private operators use of Turkish railway network.

Liberalisation of Turkish railways on track

TCDD, Turkey’s state-owned rail operator, has been split in two. It will now be the primary infrastructure manager. Track maintenance, construction, and maintenance of associated trackside systems and tech, is now its sole responsibility. 

Its passenger and freight services will now fall under the umbrella of the TCDD Joint Stock Company.
Private operators will soon be able to pay TCDD for use of Turkey’s 10,000-plus kilometres of track, smashing its long-held monopoly on Turkish rail activities.

It is likely the rail freight industry that will really benefit from this opening up of the network to private companies. 6% of freight in Turkey is carried by train annually. By 2023, the goal is to increase this sector’s traffic share by 15% of total cargo volumes. 

Letting independent firms carry more goods and loads via train, something liberalisation signals, is likely to bump up rail freight levels considerably.

It also presents rail tech suppliers with potential new customers. While TCDD is responsible for operating the bulk of Turkey’s wagon fleet, as much as 20% of the 20,000 units in use are in the hands of private companies. As Turkey heads towards a more competitive environment for rail in general, these firms are predicted to step up orders of rolling stock.

And, if their fleets expand, independent firms will have to expand stock yards and depots to cope with increased demand. A market for related technologies will emerge in this scenario – another entry point for rail tech suppliers to make headway into Turkey.

Liberalisation of Turkish railways has been a long process. Even so, full programme realisation is in sight. June 2017 was the deadline for the first non-TCDD locomotive to start running. This begs a rather large question: who will Turkey’s first private rail operator?

Four firms could be Turkey’s first private rail users

There are plenty of candidates in the running to become Turkey’s first private railway controllers. Here, we shine a spotlight on who has the biggest chance of being the first. 

Keep these companies on your radar. Once liberalisation really gets rolling, and the market fosters intense competition, these businesses will be the ones on the hunt for the latest railway-related technologies.
Below are four companies eyeballed as potential privatisation pioneers for Turkey’s rail sector:

Omsan Logistics

Omsan Logistics holds the best chance of becoming the first independent player. As a subsidiary of the Oyak Group, amongst Turkey’s biggest investment bodies, it has a consistent revenue stream to play with. Market-entry wise, big cash flow should ease things considerably.

Mining, steel and cement cargoes make up the bulk of what Omsan carries via rail. Its railway freight turnover comes to 4 million tons a year. Iron ore, a key commodity for Omsan, is transported via a fully electrified stretch of track too – a major boon for the firm.
With the cash to splash, and big extant cargo loads, Omsan’s chances for independent rail operations are high.


With over 706 wagons at its disposal already, AR-GU owns the biggest private fleet in Turkey at the moment. Its railway team is also amongst the country’s largest. Crucially, like Omsan, AR-Gu is also backed by a heavy hitter. Arkas, Turkey’s biggest shipping company, owns AR-GU, providing more potential billions in financial backing.

AR-GU also has contracts to transport iron ores from the city of Elazig in Eastern Anatolia across the country. Off the back of this, it will very probably start running purely AR-GU-owned locomotives soon.

KLN Logistics

KLN Logistics is a subsidiary of the Kolin Group. Each year, it handles around 750,000 tons of rail freight. The company has been investing heavily in rolling stock in recent years, purchasing 160 wagons last year.

The Kolin Group has an extensive presence in Turkish construction, being a contractors on some huge projects nationwide. To carry its project materials, construction components, and so on, it turns to KLN Logistics. With historic investment in wagons, KLN looks set to begin buying its own locomotives soon.


Tupras is the nation’s only oil refiner. Responsible for transporting refined oil and petroleum products throughout Turkey, it relies on rail services considerably. However, with Turkey’s iminiment railway liberalisation, it is unlikely Tupras will remain simply a client.

With its partner, Demirylou Logistics, Turpas will probably start running its own trains soon – especially once the Baskentray project in capital city Ankara is completed in December 2017. 

One of Tupras’ key rail routes is between its Izmit-based refinery on the coast to Kirkkale in Eastern Anatolia. When Baskentray enters service, it will cut down transit times along the Izmit-Kirkkale route considerably – a prompt for Tupras to begin investing in private locomotives.

Discover Turkish rail stock demand at Istanbul Rail Tech

Ongoing development of Turkish railways is creating increased demand for rolling stock from private players like those mentioned above. You can uncover the demand for cutting-edge rail technologies in Turkey and Eurasia at Istanbul Rail Tech.

The event is a cost effective and time efficient platform to meet, negotiate and conduct business with buyers from rail networks, stations, governments, and private operators across Turkey, the Balkans, Eastern and Central Europe and Middle East regions.

Contact us today to learn more about this brand new event on Turkey’s transport and logistics calendar.

Image: © Peter Velthoen via Flickr


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