Turkey is set to launch country's first high-speed train this week, but this is just a beginning, said a senior official of the Turkish State Railways (TCDD).
"We have to build a high-speed rail network across the country in ten years and we will do it," said Erol Inan, Deputy Director-General of TCDD.
Turkey's first high-speed train service will begin on March 13. Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan will inaugurate the high-speed train between the capital city Ankara and central city of Eskisehir on a 200-kilometer line.
The TCDD is also working hard to complete the line from Eskisehir to Istanbul, said Inan.
He said the TCDD finalized the tender for the construction of the line between Ankara and the central-eastern province of Sivas and that construction works would begin very soon.
"When the line between Eskisehir and Istanbul is completed, Turkey will have high-speed train service from Sivas to Istanbul. Another ongoing project is the line between Ankara and the central province of Konya. We will launch that line next year. All these projects will be finished in three years," Inan said.
Turkey started building high-speed rail lines in 2003. The first phase of the project was the line between Ankara and Eskisehir. The high-speed train will reduce current the travel time of 180-minutes from Ankara to Eskisehir to 80 minutes. When the High Speed Train Project is fully completed, travel time will be 3 hours between Ankara and Istanbul, which is currently 6 hours and 30 minutes.
The TCDD purchased the first high-speed train sets, with a maximum speed of 250 kilometers per hour, from Spain's CAF company in 2007.
TCDD has also plans to link Ankara to Izmir on the Aegean coast and open a railway corridor from country's north to south.