Plans to modernise the country’s railway network are being deferred because of the government’s austerity programme. This includes the $500 million scheme to upgrade the Istanbul to Ankara line, which may not even have sufficient priority to be included in the 1995 budget.

Turkish Railways (TCDD) drew up feasibility studies earlier in the year for the upgrading and rehabilitation of the existing 570-kilometre line between the two cities. If the government does allocate funding and TCDD can adapt its studies to incorporate changes proposed by the State Planning Organisation, the project could be ready for tender early in 1995, officials say. However, the present economic and political crisis and the fact that TCDD is a leading loss-maker among state economic enterprises, are likely to work against the project’s incorporation into the 1995 budget.

The rehabilitation of the line would have facilitated the introduction of tilting train technology and would have reduced the journey time to four and a half hours from the present seven hours.

The estimated $4,000 million scheme to build a new 430-kilometre high- speed line between Istanbul and Ankara, which included a metro link under the Bosporus, appears to have been shelved indefinitely, contracting sources say.