All aboard: Turkey takes over major train lines, including the popular Eastern Express


Trains on Turkey’s main line, which were suspended in March last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will resume operating with 12 different routes to the country’s Anatolian hinterland, offering passengers a unique experience from north to south and east to west.

Train operations, including the Eastern Express, the famous route that connects the capital Ankara to the snow-capped east of Turkey, were suspended on March 28, 2020 and will resume on July 12 this year according to Turkish Railways. . (TCDD).

The change came as part of the period of gradual normalization in the country which was launched after new cases of COVID-19 declined significantly and the vaccination rate rose nationwide.

Recently, new regulations have also been unveiled regarding the resumption of high-speed trains.

Newly taken over lines include Eastern Express, Southern Express, Lake Van Express, Pamukkale Express, 9th of September Express, Ankara Express, Euphrates Express, Erciyes Express, Aegean Express, Konya Blue, Izmir Blue and the Express des Lacs.

The Eastern Express travels from the capital Ankara to the eastern province of Kars and became extremely popular after people started sharing photos of the landscape on social media. The popularity caused TCDD to put a new train into service on the same line only for tourism after it became so popular that people trying to reach eastern Turkey by train could no longer find tickets. .

Before the popularity of the express, the average age of passengers was 50, while college students, photographers, tourists and influencers quickly became the biggest groups to travel on the line before the pandemic.

Photographers and videographers are frequent passengers, as the experience offers a multitude of landscapes and views, especially in winter.

After leaving Ankara, the Eastern Express makes brief stops in the eastern towns of Kırıkkale, Kayseri, Sivas, Erzincan and Erzurum before reaching Kars.

The Southern Express, also known as the Kurtalan Express, offers an eastward journey through southern Turkey. The route was founded over 75 years ago.

Continuing non-stop since it opened before the pandemic, the express is one of the first choices for adventurers who wish to take a cultural tour through Anatolia.

The Kurtalan Express departs from Ankara and arrives in Siirt in just over a day.

The Kurtalan Express makes more than 70 stops, including Kırıkkale, Kayseri, Sivas, Malatya, Elazığ, Diyarbakır and Batman, along the 1212 kilometer route from first to last station.

Among the newly taken over lines, the Lake Van Express, which connects Ankara with Kayseri, Sivas, Malatya, Elazığ and Tatvan on the western shore of Lake Van, is also a long journey that takes over 27 hours.

The Pamukkale Express, also an important line in boosting local tourism, connects Eskişehir, Istanbul and Ankara to Denizli, where tourists can visit one of Turkey’s most famous cities, Pamukkale, which means “cotton castle” in Turkish. and has scenic travertine hot springs.

TCDD, while maintaining and renewing mainline train wagons, took the necessary measures against the pandemic with all disinfection procedures being carried out before resuming operations.

Mainline trains connecting different cities have four different types of wagons: pullman, covered sleeper, sleeping wagons and dining wagons.

With the resumption of these train journeys, domestic tourism should gain momentum in many cities and towns rich in history, nature and culture.

Demand is also expected to be high during the upcoming holidays of Qurban Bayram, or Eid al-Adha.


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