IN A NOTABLE shift in policy, the Turkish Transport & Communications Ministry announced in December that investment in railway upgrading and new construction is to be stepped up. Speaking two weeks ahead of a National Railway Congress held in Istanbul on December 15-17, Transport Minister Necdet Menzir indicated that railways would no longer be at the back of the queue for state investment. The ministry’s 1998 allocation for Turkish State Railways amounts to 23 500bn lira, and Menzir said that projects already under way would add 2000 km to TCDD’s 10466 route-km network.

There are numerous proposals for new lines, and several should see preliminary design and survey work completed this year. They include metro or light rail lines in Gaziantep (20 km) and Isparta (12 km), and a commuter link from Sincan to Yenikent. Surveying is also planned over the 237 km between Tatvan and Van round the north shore of Lake Van, and on the 288 km from Bandirma on the Sea of Marmara to Bursa and Ayazma, from where branches would serve In