The Istanbul-Sofia Express, operated by TCDD Transportation Inc., affiliated to the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure, made its first voyage after a 2-year hiatus due to the epidemic.
TCDD Transportation General Manager Hasan Pezuk bid farewell to the Istanbul-Sofia Express, Turkey’s gateway to Europe, in passenger transportation by rail.
Speaking at the farewell ceremony, Pezuk said, that they continue to exceed the borders with passenger and freight transportation services carried out by the General Directorate of TCDD Transportation Inc., where they deliver an average of more than 600 thousand passengers and 200 freight trains and 91 thousand tons of cargo per day.
Reminding that there were significant decreases in the number of passengers during the epidemic period, Pezuk said, “It is extremely pleasing for us that the total number of passengers in the first 3 months of 2022 exceeded the total number in the same period of 2019 before the epidemic, and the passenger traffic at our stations and stations increased.”
Expressing that the Istanbul-Sofia Express was eagerly awaited by the passengers, Pezuk stated that the 2-year hiatus of the Istanbul-Sofia Express, which they operated each day before the epidemic, came to an end.
Stating that railway transportation, which is preferred more than other transportation types against environmental pollution, comes to the fore with its economic and safe aspects, Pezuk said:
“International railway operations are carried out successfully thanks to the geopolitical location advantage of our country’s lands in the Asian-European continents due to its borders, and the significant investments made in railways in the last 19 years. While the investments made in railways in our country give their results one by one, the natural bridge position between Europe and Asia is further reinforced by the railway connection.
As TCDD Transportation General Directorate, we are developing projects in order to get a larger share of the railway transports created by the trade between Asia and Europe, to be a regional logistics actor, and to provide an economical, high quality and safe logistics service to our exporters and industrialists. We now support our industrialists and exporters to compete globally by carrying out logistics operations with railways in geographies far from our country.”
“1.765 freight trains passed from Marmaray”
Hasan Pezuk stated that as a result of the improvements made in the fields of transportation and infrastructure in the railway sector and the increase in the trend of being preferred between modes, a total of 33.2 million tons of cargo was transported in 2021, breaking the highest transportation record of all time, with an increase of 11% compared to the previous year’s shipments.
Pezuk emphasized that the international freight transport, which increased by 24% compared to the previous year and amounted to 4.3 million tons last year, is important in terms of showing the contribution of the railway to the export products and the country’s economy.
Pointing out that Marmaray, which provides an uninterrupted railway opportunity between Europe and Asia, is one of the most important transportation investments, Pezuk continued as follows:
“We have reached the target of one million passengers per day by renewing the record with 648 thousand daily passengers on April 1, 2022 on Marmaray, which has carried 685 million passengers since its opening. A total of 1765 freight trains, 924 to Europe and 841 to Asia, have passed from Marmaray, which also carries freight, since April 17, 2020, when freight trains began to pass.
Thanks to the 1765 trains, most of which are international freight, and 1 million 42 thousand tons of freight, Marmaray passed between two continents quickly and economically.
We carry more than 600 thousand passengers on average per day; We offer our citizens a fast, comfortable and economical journey on high-speed trains, mainline, regional and urban passenger trains. While transporting an average of 22,500 passengers per day on the Ankara-Istanbul, Ankara-Konya-Karaman and Istanbul-Konya-Karaman, Ankara-Eskisehir routes with YHTs that have advanced the age in transportation to our country, we have brought together 63 million citizens with the comfort and speed of YHT so far.”
“We are confident that the Istanbul-Sofia Express will be met with the same intense interest”
TCDD Transportation General Manager Pezuk expressed that they were excited to restart international passenger transportation, which they had to take a break due to the epidemic, and said that they saw the Istanbul-Sofia Express, which went back to the rails after a 2-year break, as the first step towards paving the way for different routes.
Emphasizing that the Istanbul-Sofia Express has a special importance in terms of providing the international passenger traffic between Turkey and Europe by rail, Pezuk said, “We are sure that the Istanbul-Sofia Express, which we transported 65 thousand passengers between 2017-2020, will be met with the same intense interest. As of today, our citizens will be able to explore Europe comfortably with our train consisting of 2 beds and 1 couched wagon. Our trains will make positive contributions to the commercial life of our cities in the region and will undoubtedly improve their tourism potential.”
Pezük stated that the tickets for the Istanbul-Sofia Express can be purchased at Halkali, Sirkeci and nearby Sogutlucesme stations in Istanbul, as well as at the box offices selling 22 international tickets, together with centers such as Ankara, Eskisehir and Izmir.
According to the information given, the express, which departs from Istanbul-Halkali and takes about half a day to Sofia, Bulgaria, offers its passengers a pleasant journey.
The train proceeds on the route Halkali, Cerkezkoy, Alpullu, Edirne, Kapikule, Svilengrad, Dimitrovgrad, Plovdiv, Pazarcik, Sofia; departs from Istanbul at 21.40 and departs for Sofia at 09.35, from Sofia at 18.30 and reaches Istanbul at 05.34.
Source: Sabah / Translated by Irem Yildiz