UTIKAD Emre Eldener Chairman of the Board, UTA Magazine in the number of March in the railway transportation sector what he expects wrote
The letter of Emre Eldener, the President of the International Transport and Logistics Service Providers Association, is as follows; As you know, the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway line, which the Turkish logistics industry has been waiting for, has been completed in the last months of last year. As UTİKAD, we emphasized the importance of this line in almost every platform we take place, and underlined that it will bring a great momentum to the logistics sector after its completion.
As a matter of fact, within the scope of the One Belt One Road project, which was carried out under the leadership of China, significant developments occurred in the sector within a few months following the opening of this line, which strengthened our country's place. The most important of these was undoubtedly the acceptance of TCDD A.Ş. as a permanent member of the Trans Caspian International Transport Route International Union in February.
The Trans Caspian International Transport Route, which is a member of the railway transportation companies of the countries concerned, is also called the 'middle corridor', which operates within the scope of the activities for the construction of the transportation line starting from China to Europe. Starting from China and Southeast Asia, Kazakhstan, the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan, these lines extending to Georgia and through Turkey to European countries, soon, is more preferable than the other lines because it is the fastest and climatically most suitable line.
At the same time the BTK (Baku-Tbilisi-Kars) routes from North Africa to set up maritime connection, the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea Viking train connection lines are emerging as important for Turkey. Speed and thanks to this line providing competitive advantages in terms of cost will be further strengthened Turkey's claim that the transfer center.
Completion of BTK is of great importance not only for the Turkish logistics industry, but also for the foreign trade activities of approximately 60 countries. Although this line has been in mind as a line that will provide uninterrupted transportation from China to Europe within the scope of China's One Generation One Road Project, it also plays an important role in terms of Trans Caspian International Transportation Route. However, important technical problems regarding the efficient use of the BTK line should not be overlooked. The line, which will enable the countries that use this line, especially Kazakhstan, to carry especially high tonnage loads, cannot be maintained 'uninterruptedly' due to the lack of technical integration between countries.
The first problem here is due to the difference in the rail spacing of the countries. Wide rail spacing (1520 mm) is used in Georgia and Azerbaijan, and the Baku-Tbilisi-Ahılkelek section of the project is also within this range. However, standard rail spacing (1435 mm) is used in our country. The section from Kars to Ahılkelek is still built in this range. This means that bogie replacement (changing the rail space of the wagons) will be made in Ahılkelek; wagons used in Turkey is not in accordance with this change, so it does not go beyond Ahilkelek Turkish wagons. At this point, there are two solutions; The first solution is to transfer cargo from wagon to wagon in Ahılkelek town of Georgia. The second solution Ahılkelek varying the wagon axles Azerbaijani and Georgian Continuing Turkey. However, Azeri and Georgian wagons, which have a wider rail spacing, are not expected to be allowed to cross beyond Kars for technical reasons. Therefore, Kars will not become a center where such cargoes are transported and stored, which means that these operations will generally be carried out in Ahılkelek. After seeing a transfer in Ahılkelek, the second handling of cargo in Kars will both slow down the logistics flow and increase the cost.
Another problem is the fact that the railways of the countries have been built in accordance with different axle pressures. The resistance of BTK to 800 tons of axle pressure makes it impossible for heavier tonnage block trains departing from Kazakhstan to continue on this line. In order for these loads to continue at BTK, they need to be divided into smaller block trains. However, the railways of Russia can reach much higher axle pressures, naturally at this point, BTK is weakening in terms of competition.
In addition to the need to find solutions to these technical problems, the fact that the railway has a rate of only 1 percent in the preferred modes of transportation in foreign trade when we look at our country is another prominent negativity. Because a reliable and uninterrupted railway network that the logistics sector can use effectively for carrying loads has not been provided yet. Unfortunately, it is not possible for a load loaded on the train to pass to Thrace without interruption. The cargo needs to be taken off the train in the Gulf of Izmit, transferred to Tekirdağ by seaway ferry and loaded on the train again. Istanbul and the Straits cannot be crossed by rail, in this case, naturally, the preference for rail decreases.
Away from Istanbul, Turkey in general the situation is very different when we observe. Logistics centers and bases are not planned to facilitate load integration between modes. The lack of railway connections in most of our ports causes transit freight traffic that will pass over our country to shift to alternative routes.
However, I would like to state that we look at 2018 with hope in this sense. The primary reason for this is according to the 2018 Investment Program; 88.1 billion TL of the public investment budget of 21.4 billion TL is reserved for the transportation sector. The development of the infrastructure for freight transport, with the support of the public investments and the private sector, will ensure greater shares from 'One Generation One Road' and other transport corridor projects.