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Train in Turkey is a great way to explore the country on a budget, in this article we will cover everything you need to know about Trains in Turkey.
You will find a comparison between the old and new trains and other important details about trains in Turkey in this article.
A history of railways in Turkey
A quite developed railways network was operating even during the Ottoman era. Attracting European travelers such as the well-known Orient Express and covering distances throughout the three continents, trains at the Ottoman lands used to bear an important mission.
Towards the end of the Empire, ambitious railway projects were introduced, in particular by Abdulhamid II. And many wars during the World War I damaged considerably the network in many provinces. Today, there are still remnants of that network in several countries.
Following the establishment of modern Turkey, the railroads received special attention. However, in the 1950s, motorways were emphasized over railways, and it wasn’t until the 2000 that trains resumed their role in Turkey’s transportation industry.
In the last twenty years, Turkish railways have been allocated a great deal of investment and modernized significantly. Turkey even opened its high-speed train into service in 2009 between Ankara-Eskişehir being the 6th high-speed operation in Europe and 8th in the world.
Trains in Turkey
Attractiveness of trains is increasing in Turkey in the last years thanks to the well maintained infrastructure and railway vehicles, in particular the high speed trains.
So, which cities or regions are you able travel by train in Turkey There are basically four types of trains you can travel by in Turkey: international trains, mainline trains, regional trains and high-speed trains.
Mainline Trains in Turkey
There are more than 10 long-distance trains providing services in different parts of Turkey. In most of the long-distance trains, choices of sleeper cabins, couchette cabins and bare seats are available.
Izmir Blue Train: İzmir-Ankara, travel time 13 hours 40 min.
Konya Blue Train: Konya-İzmir, travel time 12,5 hours
Aegean Express: Eskişehir-Balıkesir/Basmane, travel time 11,5 hours
Euphrates Express: Adana-Elazığ, travel time 10 hours
Ankara Express: Ankara-İstanbul/Halkalı, travel time 8 hours 40 min.
Touristic Orient Express: Ankara-Kars, 31 hours 40 min.
Read also: Eskisehir Train
Regional Trains in Turkey
These trains are providing passenger services at shorter distances. In many cities, there are regional trains operated between city centers and rural areas on the outskirts or close districts of these cities.
Some of the cities with regional train services are Ankara, İzmir, Balıkesir, Manisa, Mersin, Eskişehir, İstanbul, Zonguldak.
International trains in Turkey
There are two international routes where train can be used as a mean of travel: to Bulgaria and Iran.
As of January 2022, Even though international passenger services have been suspended in Turkey due to the Coronovirus pandemic, there are two international trains operated ordinarily, one from Halkalı/İstanbul to Sofia/Bulgaria and the other from Ankara-Tehran.
It is possible to connect from Sofia to Hungary, Romania and other European countries by the eastern-bound international train.
TCDD sells ticket only up to Sofia. The other international train operated by TCDD is the Transasia Express which is making a weekly trip both from Ankara and Tehran.
Other than these two trains Turkish train operator has also agreements with several flexi-group campaigns such as Balkan Flaxipass or Interrail Pass.
High-speed trains in Turkey
Running at 250 km/h, high-speed seats are at very short supply for passengers, as the demand is quit high. High-speed trains in operation run between the Ankara-Eskişehir, Ankara-İstanbul, Ankara-Konya, Konya-İstanbul routes.
Travel times at these routes are 1.30 hour, 4 hour 46 min, 1 hour 47 min, 5 hours 1 min, respectively. Compared to road it saves a lot of time at an affordable price.
Getting an high-speed train ticket sometimes even becomes a challenge, as the tickets are booked so quickly, in particular at the Ankara-İstanbul-Ankara route.
In 2019, about 9 million passengers were transported by train. Turkey is constructing and planning several other high-speed railway projects recently. One of these trains passenger look forward to is the Ankara-İzmir high-speed train, which will be commissioned section by section.
Furthermore, there is the Ankara-Sivas high-speed line, test drives have been performed since the beginning of 2021. When it’s open for passenger services, this train will cut the travel time between Ankara-Sivas from12 hours to 2 hours. Design speed of this train is 250 km/h.
Further details for all kind of train services available here.
A comparison between train and bus –airway travel charges in Turkey
In order to compare the travel charges by train, bus and airway, let’s take a specific route: Ankara-İstanbul, İstanbul-Ankara, which is one of the most preferred destination by passengers.
Train: Ankara-Söğütlüçeşme/İstanbul: 11$-one way
Bus: Ankara-İstanbul (Europe): no fixed price, changes between 6-12$
Airway: Ankara-İstanbul (Sabiha Gökçen): about 25$ for a booking within a week time
Except from the commuter and regional trains, every train has a diner wagon where you can sit and have a drink or something to eat. Recently, this service is not available at high-speed trains but available at conventional trains.
Touristic Orient Express train in Turkey
Orient Express has attracted so many passengers in the last years that an express fully dedicated to touristic purposed with full of sleeper wagons was inaugurated at the beginning of 2020 by the name ‘Touristic Orient Express’. With a long pause due to the pandemic, it has been resumed in December 2021.
At the Touristic Orient Express, the price for a compartment with two beds is 1300 TL, 650 for each passenger. Touristic Orient Express is operated twice weekly for each direction. To book your places, you can either use the webpage of the operator or contact a travel agency.
The train leaves Ankara on Wednesdays and Fridays, and Kars on Fridays and Sundays. The travel time is about 30 hours with the thematic stops that enable the passengers witness the attractions on the route.
How to buy train ticket in Turkey
You can easily buy a train ticket in Turkey, by visiting the webpage of the train operator.
Then you have to choose the station of departure and arrival, the date, and the chair.
Alternatively, you can visit a ticket booth which is available at terminals.
There are also tourism or travel agencies selling train tickets, where you can also buy combined tickets with other transport modes.