The pandemic process has affected all of our lives in almost every area, as well as of course, significantly affected logistics and its components. In this process, restrictions on all modes of transportation and the resulting bottlenecks also disrupted global trade flows.
In the first period of trying to prevent the spread of the virus, the railway, which was proposed as contactless trade, attracted significant attention. In our country, export transports by rail increased and the number of locomotives/wagons on some lines was insufficient for the transports to be made. The increase in railway transportation during the pandemic period showed once again that the transportation barriers in the epidemic can be overcome by rail.
We have always experienced that one of the sine qua non of logistics is rail transport, and how important it is to connect our ports to production and consumption centers by rail.
It is now very clear that the way we can continue our exports to both the east and the west uninterruptedly is the railway. The necessity of turning to railway transportation and increasing investments both in the public and private sectors has once again come to the fore.
Along with the pandemic, ongoing wars in different parts of the world, increasing protectionism strategies continue to affect global trade negatively.
The demand for railways in transportation between China - Turkey - Europe is increasing day by day, especially due to the container supply problems in maritime transport, the blockages and accumulations in the ports, and the long waiting times at the border crossings on the road.
The first train between China-Turkey-Europe departed from China in October 2019 and reached Prague, Czechia, in 18 days as a transit over the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway and the Middle Corridor, using the Marmaray Tube Passage. The first freight train from Turkey to China was on 04 December 2020. ÇerkezköyIt reached Xian Province of China on December 19, 2020, by completing the 15 km track in 8.693 days.
In the 2021 Activity Report of TCDD Taşımacılık A.Ş.; In the block container trains that regularly run between China and Turkey over the Middle Corridor and Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) line; It is stated that it is aimed to operate more than 200 block trains per year in the medium term and 1.500 block trains per year in the long term and to reduce the total transportation time between China and Turkey to 10 days.
After the Kars-Tbilisi-Baku line and Marmaray were opened to freight traffic, our country is on the way to become an important link in rail freight transportation, especially between China and Europe.
However, Turkey's current railway capacity is currently barely enough for our own exporters to carry. For this reason, trains transiting through Turkey use the capacity of railway transportation within the country. This may cause long waiting times for Turkish companies.
In order for Turkey to play an active role in railway transportation between China and Europe, it is necessary to improve and develop the existing railway infrastructure, to provide intermodal integration by making railway connections to the ports, and to increase the participation of the private sector. Another important issue will be the "load priority" planning of railway investments.
By encouraging and supporting the private sector's participation in rail transport, capacity problems in the railway can be prevented. And of course, modern logistics centers integrated into all transport modes are also an indispensable part of the system.
It should be our priority to increase the added value that transportation and logistics provide to the country's economy.
Making the railway infrastructure suitable for efficient transportation, increasing the transport capacity, planning the supply chains correctly, increasing the capacities at the border gates, facilitating the customs procedures and doing all these in public-private cooperation are important priorities. While all these are being done, it should not be forgotten that the main priority is to meet the needs of Turkish exporters before transit shipments of the current capacity.
Concentrating on the North-South line (Samsun-Mersin) as well as the East-West line in transportation on our railway network will make a significant contribution to our transportation.
The way of uninterrupted export is the railway. Railway transportation will provide our industrialists with cost advantages in domestic and international transportation, low emission emissions in terms of Green Agreement practices and environment, and competitiveness with the world.
Posted by Nükhet Işıkoğlu