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Train travel through Turkey is becoming increasingly popular as improvements are made, with high-speed lines such as İstanbul–Ankara appearing.
If you’re on a budget, an overnight train journey is a great way to save accommodation costs. Many fans also appreciate no-rush travel experiences such as the stunning scenery rolling by and meeting fellow passengers. Occasional unannounced hold-ups and toilets gone feral by the end of the long journey are all part of the adventure.
Following a modernisation effort, Turkish trains are mostly as good as regular trains in Western Europe. Most have carpeted air-conditioned carriages with reclining Pullman seats; some have six-seat compartments. Riding the 250km/h Yüksek Hızlı Treni (high-speed trains, known as YHT) is a treat, with two classes to choose between and a cafeteria car.
Many regular trains have restaurant cars and kuşet (couchette) wagons with shared four-person compartments with seats that fold down into shelf-like beds. Bedding is not provided unless it’s an örtülü kuşetli (‘covered’ couchette). A yataklı vagon (sleeping car) has one- and two-bed compartments, with a washbasin, bedding, fridge and even a shared shower; the best option for women traveling alone on overnight trips.
The Turkish State Railways network covers the country fairly well, with the notable exception of the coastlines. For the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts you can travel by train to either İzmir or Konya, and take the bus from there.
There are train services from Turkey to Bulgaria, Romania, Iran and Austria.
Only Sofia and Tabriz trains run during whole year.
Optima Expres and Bucharest trains run only some periods of year.
The train to Belgrade had run for a short time and then suspended.
Tehran (Transasia) train is currently not running, but is expected to restart running in 2019.
High Speed Trains
High speed trains are connecting Ankara, Istanbul, Konya, Eskisehir, Izmit and Bilecik with a speed up to 250 km/h.
Trains have economy and business class seats and business compartments. In some lines there’s dining service (charged additionally).
TCDD high speed train fleet has CAF and Siemens sets.
Main line trains
Main line trains are long distance trains of TCDD hauled by diesel or electric locos, running daily in most cases.
All main line trains have pulman wagons. Overnight trains have couchettes, sleepers and dining wagons additionally. Sleepers are sold out quickly, better to reserve and buy ticket in advance.
Though it’s easier to find tickets for pulman, trains are very full in special days.