It’s shaping up to be a good year for those who like exploring and train travel. With two new passenger rail services due to become operational in Turkey, it makes faraway places and indeed, a different country, much more accessible.
New Eastern Express for tourists
The new Eastern Express, a scenic train service that links the capital Ankara with the eastern province of Kars, will debut today (May 29).
Turkey is launching the second train due to rising demand for the traditional express train. The new service is expected to increase the number of tourists visiting Kars by 30%.
The new train will leave Ankara at 7:55 p.m. and arrive in Kars 27 hours later. The tickets, which went on sale starting May 14, cost 400 TL (approximately $65) per person for a single compartment and 250 TL (approximately $41) for a double compartment.
The train leaves Ankara every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 7.55 p.m., and from Kars every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday at 11.55 p.m. It can accommodate up to 120 passengers in its nine wagons.
Although the Eastern Express runs all year round, it is especially popular in late autumn and winter when the landscape is covered in snow. The trains are often fully booked from December through March, prompting thousands to buy their tickets in advance.
Now, tourists will be able to enjoy the scenic route on the new Tourist Eastern Express line, increasing the availability of tickets on the original Eastern Express line for residents trying to reach eastern Turkey.
After setting off from the Ankara train station, the Tourist Eastern Express will make stops at the Erzincan, İliç and Erzurum train stations. During those stops, tourists can get off the train and spend time touring historical sites in those areas.
On the return journey from Kars to Ankara, stops will be made at Divrik and Bostankaya train stations, located in the Central Anatolian province of Sivas.
The Culture and Tourism Ministry is aiming to boost the popularity of “travel-by-train” tourism and spread it across other cities in Turkey.
Turkey’s Edirne to Bulgaria’s Plovdiv passenger rail link
A new passenger rail service between Turkey and Bulgaria will begin operation on June 1.
The train primarily aims to attract Bulgarian visitors wanting to take sightseeing and shopping trips to Edirne, but also serves for people wanting to visit the Bulgarian town of Plovdiv.
The train will only run at weekends, Saturday and Sunday. The departure and arrival times are as follows:
The 180-km-long journey all take 4 hours 20 minutes, including border crossing and passport checks.
Ticket fares are not announced yet, but is expected to be less than bus fares (TL 79, € 11).
The Istanbul-Sofia Express line was inaugurated in 2017 and runs daily from Istanbul’s Halkalı train station to the Bulgarian capital. Up until now, it has been the only passenger rail service between the countries, also acting as the line connecting Turkey to European lines.
Sources: Daily Sabah/Hürriyet Daily News/anews.com.tr