Sun Group train agreement signing

TURKEY: A license has been granted for the operation of the first regular private passenger train service in Turkey, a luxury night train which will operate between Istanbul and the Cappadocia region tourist destination.

The service will be operated by a joint venture of Japan’s HIS Global travel agency and Turkey’s Sun Group. It will be aimed at high end Japanese tourists, with the target of reaching 200 000 passengers a year.

The partners plan to invest around €40m in the project, with the lease or purchase of least two locomotives and six coaches.

No date for the start of the service has yet been announced. Further routes in Turkey are planned, but details have not been confirmed.

State operator TCDD Taşımcılık has previously run limited luxury sleeper services to tourist destinations in Turkey and occasionally similar services have run to Hungary and Iran.

Under Turkey’s rail liberalisation programme, private companies have been able to operate passenger services from this year, including bidding to take over existing services from the state operator whose subsidy was due to end. However, most TCDD Taşımcılık services have been suspended since early last year as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the government has extended its subsidies until 2023.