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Istanbul – August 2011

Next on the list was Istanbul. Turkey is a huge country, but the 4 days inside its borders weren't to be enough to venture outside this amazing city.

The city of Istanbul of two sides, separated by the Bosphorus River. It turns out that the western half is known as the 'European Side', as it's phyiscally a part of the continent of Europe, and the eastern half is therefore the 'Asian Side'. Locals don't actually use the terms as above; they simply say 'opposite side' depending on the context of the conversation.

Sirkeci, the European side

Right next to the Blue Mosque is the Sirkeci Railway Station, the end of the line for the railway coming from Europe. It used to be the initial station/final destination for the Orient Express when it was still in operation. Turkey does not yet have a rail tunnel from the European to the Asian side and so travellers must transfer to a different mode of transport here to continue their journey east.

Turkey operates a varied amount of electric rolling stock, most of which can be seen at this station. At ~8:00am each morning the international train will also arrive bringing in tourists from far afield. In the end, I failed to take a shot of the actual station itself... I seemed to have been too keen on the trains this trip rather than the infrastructure.

Speaking of infrastructure... freight trains do actually have a method of getting across the Bosphorus. Turkish Railways still operate a train ferry from Sirkeci to Haydarpaşa Station. The boats seem to be able to carry around 6 wagons; unfortunately I never got to see one in transit. Note that the last shot below is from the platforms of Sirkeci station. You can see the pipe train in the background which had been taken off the ferry in the few hours that I'd been on the other side of the river.

Train ferry at Sirkeci Train ferry at Sirkeci Train ferry at Sirkeci
Train ferry at Sirkeci Train ferry at Sirkeci Sirkeci Station

Haydarpaşa, the Asian side

It was nice to finally see some infrastructure and rolling stock after a pretty quiet western side. Haydarpaşa Station is the final station on the eastern side and all services heading into Turkey and further initiate there. There are a lot of loco-hauled passenger services and that means there is a lot of consist rearranging in the yard. There is also quite a bit of freight action visible as the ferry terminates just north of the station.

Haydarpaşa Station Passenger consists at Haydarpaşa StationFreight shunting from the train ferry at Haydarpaşa Station
Shunter at Haydarpaşa Station Haydarpaşa Station Yard Freight at Haydarpaşa Station
Haydarpaşa Station Haydarpaşa Station Freight at Haydarpaşa Station Haydarpaşa Station Electric loco at Haydarpaşa Station
E43 008 at Haydarpaşa Station Double crossover at Haydarpaşa Station Shunter loitering near train wash at Haydarpaşa Station Do not enter Haydarpaşa Station
Freight yard next to Haydarpaşa Station EMUs at Haydarpaşa Station Haydarpaşa Station

And then you have the other end of the train ferry... The final shot below was taken as our ferry was back to Sirkeci; there is now a different load on the boat.

Haydarpaşa Station Haydarpaşa Station Haydarpaşa Station
Train ferry at Haydarpaşa Station Train ferry at Haydarpaşa Station Train ferry at Haydarpaşa Station

Halkali, back on the European side

I had google maps'd this location and saw a freight yard. It was the last freight yard before the line narrowed into Sirkeci station and seemed to have a lot of rolling stock. I jumped on an EMU from Sirkeci which took 40mins to get around to the yard. Once there, there was not a sound to be heard... no one was working in the area and then the call-to-prayer came over the PA system. This was the final stop for the service I was on, so I held on to my train 'token' (they used coins as tickets in Turkey) and waited to return on the same consist.

Fortunately, while I was there a rail tractor shunted a ballast rake. There was also a rail consist stabled without locomotives.

Halkali Station Rail train at Halkali Station Ballast train at Halkali Station
Tractor at Halkali Station EMU at Halkali Station

And that was it for Turkey... the next stop was Greece.