The Turkish city of Eskisehir will get its first light rail services this month, with the opening of the 16·2 km Estram network

Emre Aykar, Dr Ahmet Civi and Mehmet Kaba

Yapi Merkezi Construction & Industry Inc

MID-JULY is due to see the formal opening ceremony for the Estram light rail network in the Turkish city of Eskisehir. Estram is the first component of the city's Urban Development Plan, which aims to ensure that current rapid growth and industrialisation can be sustained for the medium-term future.

The light rail network will counteract the impact on the city environment of growing demand for travel, rising car ownership and increasing congestion, all of which threaten to hamper the economic development of Eskisehir and its 500000 residents.

Use of advanced technology and all-low-floor trams is a first for Turkey, and we intend Estram to be a pioneer project which will contribute to the preparation of national standards for all future light rail projects in the country.

Greater Eskisehir Municipality awarded the US$118m turnkey contract for Estram to the consortium of Yapi Merkezi Construction & Industry Inc and Bombardier Transportation Sweden AB in June 2002. YMCI is responsible for the whole civil works, as well as trackwork and electromechanical installation. Bombardier supplied electromechanical systems and rolling stock. The consortium is also responsible for staff training, maintenance support and supervision for the first year of service. Estram will be operated by Eskisehir Transportation Co, a subsidiary of the Greater City Municipality of Eskisehir. Construction has now been completed, and final comissioning is well underway.

The 10·6 km Line 1 follows a southeast to northwest alignment across the city, from the main bus station to Anadolu University and SSK Hospital. Extensions southeast to the Ankara Road industrial estate and northwest to Bursa Road are planned for the future.

Line 2 is 6·8 km long, and runs from Osmangazi University in the southwest to Kuyubasi in the northeast of the city. The two routes share the same tracks for 800m through K?€?prübasi, and here the street has been pedestrianised to improve the social environment and give the passengers easy access to the trams.


The need to improve public transport in Eskisehir was initially emphasised by a Transportation Master Plan prepared by the Middle East Technical University's Transportation Research Centre in July 1995. This analysed the social and economic structure of the city's transport needs, surveying the movement of people and their reasons for travelling, and included traffic counts on key routes. Options for different mass transit systems were evaluated, and as a result light rail was proposed for the city.

The report was revised and updated by Istanbul Technical University's Transportation Research Centre in October 2001, with the inclusion of a model of the current road and transport networks, updated information on socio-economic factors, projected population growth and land use. The most beneficial routes were evaluated and the social and economic benefits and payback conditions were determined.

The analysis found that the city would benefit from the reductions in journey times, road maintenance, accidents and environmental damage, and demonstrated that the project was economically justified because of its contribution to the national economy.

An environmental impact assessment commissioned from STAT Design Consultancy & Research Co concluded that Estram would not adversely affect the natural or human environment during its construction and operation, and would cut noise and improve the air quality.

The majority of the design work was undertaken by the consortium partners' in-house design teams, but further assistance came from experienced European consultancies and public transport operators, with D2S International and De Lijn from Belgium and RATP and Systra from France making valuable contributions.

Before work could begin, the project had to be approved by the Municipal council, as well as the national Under-Secretariats of State Planning and the Treasury, the Ministries of Transport and Internal Affairs, and the Supreme Court of Accounts. A Project Management Unit was created with the pivotal role of co-ordinating negotiations over the numerous interfaces with the city's infrastructure and utility authorities, and the municipality established a Project Implementation Unit with responsibility for supervision of the works.


The groundbreaking was held on June 20 2002, and construction work started three months later.

To keep the infrastructure costs down the two routes run entirely at grade. Both routes are double track throughout, to maximise capacity, and are almost entirely on reserved track with trams given priority at the level crossings. Whilst standard gauge is generally used for modern light rail projects, Eskisehir adopted metre-gauge so that the tracks can be threaded through narrow streets in the city centre. The track uses Ri60 grooved rails on supporting blocks embedded in concrete, with elastomeric rail fixings providing vibration suppression and noise reduction.

The stops have 260mm high side platforms, arranged facing each other or staggered to provide the best flow of road traffic. Special care has been paid to ensure architectural integration with the city environment.

Bombardier has supplied a fleet of 18 Flexity Outlook trams, similar to vehicles in service in Linz and Lodz and on order for Genève and Brussels. They will be maintained in a 4700m2 covered workshop within the 36000m2 depot site next to the main bus station.

Service objectives

The aim of Estram is to reduce congestion in the city, rationalise bus operation and to enhance public transport provision. Estram will be the main mode along the four corridors leading to the city centre, and existing bus and minibus services will be rerouted to provide feeder links from catchment areas on the outskirts of the city to the main interchange stations where passengers will transfer to trams. Smart card ticketing will be introduced shortly, with one payment allowing passengers to transfer between modes within a limited time to complete their journey. Park-and-ride facilities have also been built at Otogar, Anadolu University and Osmangazi University.

Timetable planning was undertaken by Istanbul Technical University in May 2003, and the study estimated that the trams will initially carry 110000 passengers per day, increasing to 250000 passengers per day in 20 years.

The project is being financed by foreign credits, including soft loans from the European Investment Bank, Nordic Investment Bank and export credit arranged by ABN Amro Bank. EIB has allocated €110m towards the Urban Development Project, which in addition to the transport improvements includes flood prevention work on the Porsuk River, as well as extension and rehabilitation of the city's water supply and sewerage networks.

Trams in Brief

Supplier Bombardier

Number of cars 18

Model Flexity Outlook (Cityrunner)

Sections 4

Trucks 3

Traction motors 4 x 105 kW

Weight tonnes 35·8

Low floor 100%

Length m 29·5

Width m 2·3

Height m 3·5

Max speed km/h 70


Seated 58

Standing at 8/m2 260

  • CAPTION: Lines 1 and 2 meet at a triangular junction in the city centre
  • CAPTION: Celebrations were held in December 2003 to mark the delivery of the first cars
  • CAPTION: Stops such as this one at Belediye have 260 mm high side platforms
  • CAPTION: The 36000m2 depot site next to the main bus station includes a 4700m2 covered workshop
  • CAPTION: Ri60 grooved rail was adopted, with elastomeric fixings to reduce noise
  • CAPTION: The 800m core section of the tram network in the city centre has been pedestrianised to improve the environment