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Retaining ambitions one day to accede to the European Union and playing a potentially significant role in pan-European transit freight, Turkey has for many years been seeking to liberalise its railway market broadly in line with EU policy. Some progress has been made, but much more legislation has still to be enacted and timescales for ending TCDD’s monopoly are still unclear.
The decision to reform the governance and structure of Turkey’s railways has been heavily influenced by a desire to keep the country in step with EU rail policy. Indeed, proposals to unbundle state railway TCDD have been on the government’s agenda for more than a decade, since legislative proposals on the Organisation of the Railway Sector were issued back in February 2005.
After eight years of work, a formal decree to liberalise the rail sector was issued in May 2013, with the aim of ending the monopoly of incumbent TCDD and introducing a ‘competitive and transparent market environment’. This in turn was intended to stimulate uptake of rail transport by passengers and freight shippers by optimising fares and tariffs and improving service quality. At the same time, the government has committed to a major programme of infrastructure construction and railway renewal, under a Master Plan adopted in 2010 that would see more than 4 000 km of new line built by 2023, the centenary of the Turkish republic, alongside a major programme of double-tracking, electrification and resignalling of existing lines.
Significant progress has unquestionably been made in the liberalisation process. The first law dealing explicitly with unbundling of the railway came in 2011 through a Decree on the Administrative Structure and Duties of the Ministry of Transport, Maritime Affairs & Communication. This established a Directorate-General of Railways, which is tasked with delivering fair, non-discriminatory and sustainable competition. Several further regulations have since been passed to support the realisation of these objectives. The regulations now in force cover:
In addition, the legislation issued to date envisages the creation of an entity known as TCDD Tasimacilik, which, after a one-year mobilisation period, would take on the rolling stock, staff and other assets of the existing state railway. However, TCDD Tasimacilik has still to come into being, although government sources suggest this is expected to happen as soon as next month. Financing of investment and debt for the new entity would be undertaken by the government for an initial five-year period.
This article first appeared on www.railwaygazette.com
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