TURKEY: Test operations have started on the Gaziray suburban network in the southeastern city of Gaziantep, with Minister of Transport Adil Karaismailoğlu attending the inaugural test run on September 1.
The 25∙5 km corridor is being developed jointly by infrastructure manager TCDD and Gaziantep municipality, within a budget of TL5bn. Karaismailoğlu said it would help to reduce traffic congestion in the city, but did not give an estimated opening date.
According to previous announcements, testing had been expected to start in May ahead of a scheduled opening in September to coincide with the new school year.
Gaziray will be the fourth dedicated suburban rail network to be developed by TCDD after Izmir’s Izban, Ankara’s Başkentray and most recently Istanbul’s cross-city Marmaray line, which was finally completed in 2019.
Development of the Gaziray network has involved quadrupling the existing standard gauge railway corridor to provide two tracks each for inter-city and suburban trains. A 5 km section of the route through the city centre has been rebuilt on an underground alignment. Gaziray will serve 16 stations of which four are located in the tunnel section.
Construction work has been undertaken under multiple contracts awarded to domestic groups Kolin, Kalyon and BS Uluslararasi Mühendislik, while Elsitel Elektromekanik İnşaat was awarded a separate contract covering electrification and signalling.
Rolling stock is being supplied by domestic manufacturer Türasaş which early last year signed a €47m contract to deliver eight four-car EMUs with a top speed of 120 km/h and capacity for 1 000 passengers each.
Karaismailoğlu reported that work was continuing on the reconstruction and electrification of the Mersin – Adana – Osmaniye – Gaziantep main line; this will see the route become a double-track alignment throughout with a maximum speed of 200 km/h.
Realignment of some sections will reduce the distance between Mersin and Gaziantep from 361 km to 312 km, while the higher line speeds will see the standard journey time between the two cities fall from 6 h 25 min to 2 h 15 min, the minister added. The route modernisation is due to be completed in 2025.