posted on 2nd May 2023 01:31
Turkey's high speed rail network expanded on 26 April 2023, with the inauguration of the new 406 km, 250 km/h double track line between Kırıkkale and Sivas, thus reducing journey time between Ankara and Sivas to just 2 h 00, compared with around 12 h 00 via Kaysei (603 km) at present. The first 80 km of the 486 km route between Ankara and Sivas are not new - the existing railway between the capital and Kırıkkale has simply been upgraded, with fears expressed that this stretch of line may present safety problems in the future.
On 26 April President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced that travel over the new line would be free until the end of May - no details of fares or timetables were issued. Although the President was unable to attend the inauguration ceremony on account of illness, present were Deputy President, Fuat Oktay, Minister of Transport and Infrastructure, Adil Karaismailoğlu, AK Party Deputy Chairman, Binali Yıldırım, BBP Chairman, Mustafa Destici and Re-Welfare Party Chairman, Fatih Erbakan.
Construction of this railway began in 2008, and has been plagued by delays (in Turkey this is referred to as a 'snake story') - the original aim was to have it completed in 2012. But there were cost under-estimates, and insufficient geological surveys were made. The route of the new stretch of line, between Kırıkkale and Sivas, had to be changed several times while construction was in progress. Much more tunnelling was necessary than what had been envisaged in 2008, and many more viaducts were required. In the past seven inauguration dates were announced, the last being for 4 September 2022.
In 2008 10.6 km of tunnel and just 2.7 km of viaducts were planned for - the new line has 49, totalling 66 km, and 49 viaducts totalling 27 km. The longest tunnel is 5,125 m, near Akdağmadeni, andf the longest viaduct, 2,220 m, near Çerikli-Kırıkkale. The highest viaduct (89 m) is near Elmadağ. For the first time in Turkey rails manufactured at a domestic steelworks were laid on a high speed railway, and the line is the first in Turkey with slab track - 138 km. At Sivas there is an ice prevention and defrosting installation.
There are intermediate stations at Kayas, Elmadağ, Kırıkkale, Yerköy, Yozgat, Sorgun, Akdağmadeni and Yıldızeli. In the future Sivas will become a junction, one new railway heading to Malatya, Elazig and Diyarbakir, the other continuing northeastwards via Erzincan and Erzurum to Kars, where it will connect with the recently complete and upgraded line to Tbilisi and Baku. At Yerköy there will be a junction with a new line to Kayseri.
Work is already in progress on building the Yerköy to Kasyseri line, with a view to inauguration in 2026. And construction is also taking place between Sivas and Erzincan, with the rest of the line to Kars, through difficult topography, still at the planning stage.
Passengers have already travelled over the Ankara to Sivas high speed line. Following the tragic earthquake in early February 503 victims from Malatya were transferred by DMU to Sivas. Here 153 were accommodated locally, while the remaining 350 boarded a high speed EMU bound for Ankara.