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Reforming Turkish Railways


Türkiye’s rail sector is in need of reform. The Ministry of Transport was not exercising a regulatory or supervisory role. Turkish State Railways (TCDD), a monopoly responsible for train operations, infrastructure and maintenance, was inefficient and reliant on state funding. There were no separate accounting procedures for its various operations. Although the ministry and TCDD completed an EU-funded programme on restructuring and strengthening the Turkish railway sector in January 2007, no progress was made on implementing EU regulations or national legislation proposed by the project. Therefore, a more detailed implementation strategy and plan was needed.

The aims of the project and its core activities

This project addressed issues critical for the full and timely implementation of railway reform in Türkiye. Its objective was to establish the framework for the restructuring of the railway sector and, thus, prepare it for a transparent and competitive market for the benefit of its customers.

The first step involved analysing existing organisational structures within TCDD and the Ministry of Transport in the context of the legislative package proposed by a previous EU-funded programme. Then, a strategy was drawn up to create the framework necessary for reform, taking into consideration the best railway-reform practises from EU member states. This included an action plan to establish the necessary regulatory, safety and accident investigation authorities and reorganise TCDD’s administration.

Measures were also undertaken to improve infrastructure allocation and charging within TCDD, in line with EU rules and practises in EU member states.

National rail safety rules were also drawn up, after a detailed analysis of existing Turkish legislation and EU requirements. Legislation on the interoperability – or technical compatibility of infrastructure, rolling stock, signalling and other subsystems – of TCDD with the European rail network was also improved. On the basis of these studies, two laws were enacted that changed the principles on which Turkish railways operate. The EU has significantly assisted Türkiye in restoring the railways as a reliable mode of transport. It funded around 800km of new railway infrastructure in the country and EU–Turkish cooperation in this field will continue.