Orient-Express 2: Istanbul Sirkeci - Haydarpasa (50 p.)

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Proud Earthling

To the previous part of the series:
Orient-Express 1: 21st Century (50 p.)

We find ourselves on November 4 2008 already travelling along the territory of Istanbul suburban trains (Banliyö Trenleri). At the second station from Halkali, Soguksu, we met a class E14000 EMU, built from 1979 by Tüvasas and French Groupement 50Hz. Stations of the line looked like this, featuring a wide island platform.

How many large construction sites Byzantium might have seen over the millenia? At Yedikule you on one hand passed the Theodosian Walls dating back to the 5th century - the Golden Gate could be found here - on the other hand today's mammoth Marmaray Project, the railway tunnel below the Bosporus. Due to this reason currently suburban EMUs are only running on the section Yedikule to Sirkeci terminal. It is being speculated that Sirkeci station might be completely abandoned after the tunnel is completed as it's situated on prime real estate.
Map of the current situation: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/30/Istanbul_Rapid_Transit_Map.png

We approached the city centre past some insane wooden shacks which probably would not have withstood building inspections anywhere else. We also spotted the oldest EMUs, class E8000, which had been produced from 1955 by a group led by Alsthom. Sirkeci - Halkali was the first line in Turkey being electrified in the same year 1955.

Close to Sirkeci we met this diesel shunter of class DH7000 taking freight cars to the ferry link across the Bosporus. TCDD numbers its modern locomotives by horsepower, this was a diesel-hydraulic shunter delivering 710 HP, built from 1994 by Tülomsas.

Classes E43000 and E52500 at Sirkeci depot, while passing a worker waved in a friendly manner.


Shortly after 10 a.m. our glorious Bosfor / Balkan Express finally had arrived, about 1:40 h delayed. From Kapikule we were hauled by E52518, former JZ / ZBH 441-124, built by Koncar in 1977 and renewed there in the 1990s. It had been transfered to Turkey in 1999 due to a lack of TCDD electric power and surplus in Bosnia. To the left you can see Greek OSE / fromer French SNCF sleepers of Dostluk / Filia / Friendship-Express from Thessaloniki.

At the fully occupied Orient-Express long distance platform of Sirkeci: in front of our train we could find the TVS2000-rake of train 81601, which had left Cerkezköy at 7 a.m., one hour in front of us (regularly behind our express).

Instead of a buffer, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk is guarding the end of the European railway system (with the slogan "How happy is the one who says "I am a Turk""), probably every driver is braking more carefully here.

E52513 (ex JZ / ZBH 441-007 / factory number SGP 65186/67 - ten years older than E52518, also renewed by Koncar) as traction power of train 81601.

At first we had to deposit our luggage, despite of troubles with the lockers we managed it in the end. Then we bought tokens for public transport, yet our purchase turned out to be a little excessive as not all tokens can be used on all modes of transport.
Our first in Istanbul was tram line T1 ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Istanbul_modern_tram ), back then only Bombardier Flexity Swift trams were operating, built in - Vienna. In the background you can spot a Black Sea ferry from the Ukraine in front of the Golden Horn.

These book benches could be observed at many tram stops. Despite of the stops being situated on the open street in this section, you only could enter through barriers.

We proceeded to a travel agency in the old city distric of Sultanahmet, where most sights were located. We still needed reservations for the following night in the friendship express to Thessaloniki. However, it turned out that tickets had been booked together with our reservations, obviously it was not possible any other way. The staff at the agency told us to try and exchange the tickets at Sirkeci.

We walked back as the top sights are being passed here by the tramway. Good old Hagia Sophia served as background in this pic.

Into the other direction we see the tip of Sultan-Ahmed- (Blue) Mosque.

The route through the old streets was quite interesting, here the tracks were running around an old tree.

Next, Topkapi Palace had to be passed.


Subsequently we followed Hüdavendigar Caddesi with its partly old European-style buildings down to Sirkeci. This photo is especially funny to Viennese, as "Bim" is a colloquial term for a tram... ;-)

Lunch break at Sirkeci - a friendly elderly gentleman behind the counter proved to be competent and took back our tickets for just a 6% cancellation fee.

You did not have to worry about photography at Sirkeci, as at the neighbouring Orient-Express Café Japanese tourists were taking pictures of each other every five seconds.


Finally rid of all duties we could start our larger Istanbul tour.

View from the Golden Horn across the Bosporus, if you look closely you may detect a loaded train ferry next to the flag in the background.

T1 running across Galata Bridge.

And of course also past the New Mosque (Yeni Cami).

Once more rail ferry (left) and tram (right) to discover.

T1 in front of Galata Tower.

We were a little confused by the names of ferry docks at first, as even those next to each other bear completely different names. Yet lastly we found the jetty called Karaköy (the modern name of Galata), and left Europe as well as the final photo cloud of the day behind. For the ferriy ride you needed tokens, but of course different ones than on the tramway...

On deck tea and classic sesame seed breads were served, one passenger fed his to the seagulls...

Not only due to the feeding all ships were surrounded by that many birds, you hardly could get a seagull-free picture of the sights.

About 10 minutes after leaving Karaköy we were navigating along the Asian shore of Bosporus, note the railway wagons in port.

This loaded ferry was called Demiryolu II (Railway II). What do you think, where did 100% of spotted freight cars in Asia come from? Well, Austrian ÖBB, of course! ;-)


Before the ferry reached its terminal Kadiköy (coming from Karaköy not at all confusing for tourists... "Köy" just means village: Karaköy - black village, Kadiköy - judge's village, Cerkezköy - Circassian village. "Köy" defined places of up to 2000 inhabitants, but boy, these definitely are no villages anymore but some of the most populated districts! "Sehir" is a term for larger cities, like Eskisehir - old city), we moored at the Asian rail terminal Haydarpasa. This was good, old-style travelling!

Railways of the Ottoman Empire were operated by various companies backed by foreign investors. Haydarpasa was built 1906-08 and constituted the starting point for the "Anatolische Eisenbahngesellschaft" or "Société du Chemin de fer Ottoman d’Anatolie" (CFOA) to Ankara and branching off at Eskisehir towards Konya with connection to the Baghdad Railway, with Deutsche Bank as main investor. This is clearly reflected by the architecture.
We visited just in time, on November 28 2010 the building lost its roof truss due to a fire caused by construction work. And in June 2013 the station was finally completely closed due to the Marmaray tunnel, part of it is supposed to be transformed into a museum, the rest will become a hotel with adjacent shopping mall.

Haydarpasa in its entirety.


This great hall inspired the passion to travel.


We looked around the platforms, but no loco was facing the terminal.

A TVS2000-coach rake of Bogazici (a term for all districts adjacent to the Bosporus (Bogaz), an analogue would be the "Bay Area") Treni to Ankara.


We decided to immediately move on to the bridge across the station yard and walked past this two year old banner remembering 150 year celebrations of railways in Turkey. On the way we were held up by policemen and already thought they had something against photography at the station - but no, they wanted to be photographed themselves!

Overview of coach stabling tracks, TVS2000-coaches and older suburban cars in the foreground, an arriving class E14000 of line B2 from Gebze in the background (map: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/30/Istanbul_Rapid_Transit_Map.png ).

In the centre long distance platforms, local traffic to the right.

Soon afterwards Bogazici Treni departed, I only filmed that.

On the other side of the bridge you had a great view at the depot, to the left a row of abandoned class DH6500 diesel shunters (similar to German DB V60).

In the shed to the background you can detect a brand new Rotem DM15000 DMU.

E43017 (built by Tülomsas / Toshiba) waiting for new duties. The TCDD network necessitated two differently dimensioned pantographs, one 1950 mm wide for the Istanbul suburban line, throughout the rest of the country 1600 mm were needed.

With DH9500 and a disused train washing facility we say goodbye for this part... :)

Dick H

New Member
Another great series of photos. I loved Istanbul and the trams. Very interesting city.


I have enjoyed every one of Roni's post. Excellent subjects and photography. He always get to the "real" parts of the countries, not just the touristy parts, and tells the story. TZ

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