Today, transportation is becoming the most significant problem in the world. Particularly, people who live in big cities are faced with this problem every day. Especially, the last three decades show that traditional transportation systems need to be replaced by railway systems because of major problems such as fast urbanization, intensive population growth, air pollution and energy shortages. Even tough, the first investment of the railway system costs is quite overpriced; operation and maintenance budgets are less expensive than road transportation system and air carriage. Moreover, if compared to all kind of transportation systems about the risk of accidents, energy consumption, traffic congestion and employment rate, railway transportation always has more advantages than the others in these fields. Railway transport is the most popular transportation system in the world, with the result that today all these conditions have accelerated the spread of railway transport. It is an important issue because railway is changing the social, economic and industrial life directly.
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Railway systems have been used since the creation of the first railway rolling stock which includes all unpowered vehicles. (1)According to Bonnett (2005), ‘as early as the sixteenth century wooden wheeled carts were used in mines and quarries running on longitudinal timber rails.’ At the end of the eighteenth century, horse drawn trams were used to conveying both people and goods owing to the fact that these types of the rolling stocks were more popular than the others. (2)Freeman and Aldcroft (1985) stated that horse drawn tramways utilized in a number of European cities until the first steam motive engine power was created by George Stephenson in 1829 which was called rocket and designing the new steam motive engine drew approximately 13,000 kg with a speed of 22 miles per hour in the Liverpool-Manchester Railway Line. After this invention, this incredible success influenced not only the social life but also economic and industrial life with the result that the industrial revolution’s effectiveness expanded in the continental Europe. With the progressive of the industrial revolution, railway industry had been increased enormously until the at the end of the nineteenth century and the fact that people could easily travel between the industrial cities is due to in the meantime different type of the rolling stocks were designed for fast carrying.
Turkey was influenced by the industrial revolution as well as in Europe. However, Turkey started to begin building of the first railway line which was between Izmir and AydÄ±n cities almost 130 km was opened in 1856. (3) (A history of Turkish Railway 1987) Even though, at the Ottoman Empire period many of the new railway lines were built and length of the railway system reached virtually 4000 km, the under construction of the other railway projects were delayed because of the First World War. After the First World War, Ottoman Empire was destroyed and the Republic of Turkey was established so that unfinished railway lines were reconstructed immediately again by the state company which was called Turkish State Railways. Railways policy was made in accordance with the national interest especially between 1923 and 1950. Prominent feature of this period was that basic business lines were given priority because during this period five year industrialization plans were prepared for only building new railway lines. (4)According to Turkish Statistical Institute Report (1953) showed that in spite of the all financial problems, railway lines were became larger from 4000 km to 9200 km and behind this success to use own resources effectively.
Particularly after the First World War many of the people immigrated to Istanbul from the other side of the regions owing to the fact that Istanbul’s population increased and it needed to be built transport system immediately. Therefore, Dersaadet Tramway System was founded 150 years ago for conveying the public people. Horse drawn tramways were started to operate in 1872 and they carried people until 1912. (5) (Istanbul’s Railway History 1996). After this date, electric tramways were used in Istanbul and they were major transports for conveying people until 1966. At the beginning of the 1960s, rubber-tyred vehicles became more important in public transport so that railway lines were replaced by roads and between 1965 and 1985, Istanbul did not take any investment in the area of railway system. (6) (Istanbul’s Railway History 1996). However, as the early of 1980s Istanbul’s transport problem was being felt in a worse way because Istanbul’s population increased more than twice times during this period and road constructions were not solve the transportation problem. That situation would like to be solved by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality and two major lines were built to solve the transportation problem. One railway line name is Istanbul LRT and the other name is Istanbul Metro and both of them are now under operated in different areas of Istanbul. Each railway line has different qualifications and technologies so the aim of this paper is to explain firstly how to built each line and what qualifications have after than to compare these two major lines according to economic, technologic and effectiveness.
Istanbul LRT is a light rail system and under operated between Aksaray and Airport region which has densely population area in Istanbul. This railway line was built step by step according to population and congestion of urban traffic. The first phase was constructed between Aksaray and Kartaltepe and it was opened in 1989. (7) (Istanbul LRT 2004) However, Kartaltepe region is too close the Istanbul’s big coach station and also coach station services with many of the coaches to transport people other side of the Turkey so during that time people had to change two more transport to reaching from the Kartaltepe region to the coach station. Because of this reason, Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality decided to extend this phase from Kartaltepe to the coach station and new line was opened in 1994. (8) (Istanbul LRT 2004) Following years, six more stations were under operated and railway line reached 19 km in 1999. Nevertheless, this railway line still was far away from the airport and the journey of between airport and city center took approximately two hours at that time. For this reason, new extension railway line was built immediately through World Trade Center and finally it was opened in 2002. The length of this line today is 22 km with 15 stations and it is completely isolated from the traffic so there are no level crossings along the line. Currently, 114 trains which are under operated 4 train sets run every 6 minutes on average to transport the public people and every day 320,000 passengers are carried within 31 minutes.
The whole of Istanbul LRT railway line was built by ABB which is a very competitive company in the railway sector. ABB designed not only electrification system but also vehicles. This line uses 750 V DC voltages with overhead line which is a well known system to transmit electricity with contact wire. It is very common all around the world because the best system How to use electricity efficiently and also every day a huge amount of energy can be gained again and again. Along this line, there are eight transformer stations which produce effective electricity for using inside the vehicles. Even tough, this system was built 21 years ago, there has not been seen any problems in the using of system because of having high technology trains and overhead line system.
System operation is as follows; first of all, transformer stations obtain enough electricity from the national electricity grid. Even though, national electricity grid sometimes cannot work efficiently because of supply and demand issues, along the railway line of high-tech transformer stations can regulate electricity that comes from national grid. Transformation stations convert alternating current electricity to direct current electricity because vehicles can only use this type of electricity for producing the first movement of motion. After then, transformer stations transmit regulated electricity through the agency of contact wire which carries direct current electricity on the overhead line. This direct current electricity is taken from the pantograph which is made of stainless steel because there is a huge corrosion caused by air and it is located at the top of the vehicle. Then, this electricity is used by two DC motors for producing first movement.
Other important railway line in Istanbul is underground metro which is called Istanbul Metro. Istanbul Metro is a kind of mass-transit underground metro which has served for ten years in Istanbul. The first construction of Istanbul Metro line began in 1992 but faced many difficulties because of the archeological sites which were identified first time during the digging period. (9) (Istanbul’s First Underground Metro: Istanbul Metro 2009) Moreover, the association of architectural conservation stopped several times construction of the Istanbul Metro because of being afraid of destroying archeological sites. In addition, the Istanbul Metro railway line would be passed through the most important trade site of Istanbul where between Taksim and Levent consequently engineers decided to build this line with a high technology which is withstand an earthquake of up to 9.0 on the Richter magnitude scale. Finally, the first phase of between Taksim and 4. Levent which the length of this line is 8,5 km was opened to service in 2000 with 6 stations and all vehicles run every five minutes on average and transport 130,000 passengers every day. (11) (Istanbul’s First Underground Metro: Istanbul Metro 2009) During that time, the importance of Maslak region where only 5 km far away from the 4. Levent was raised because of increasing trade volume. Moreover, Istanbul Technical University which is the oldest technical university in Turkey has approximately 20,000 students and it is situated near the Maslak region. Therefore, Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality took a decision to extend this railway line from 4. Levent to Maslak. This extension of northern railway line was under operated in 2009 and the capacity of conveying passengers reaches 250,000 people in a day. During the same period, as well as Sishane station which is another important trade center in Istanbul was opened in the same year. As a result, the length of railway line reached 16 km with in service more than 90 trains. Nowadays, southern extension of Istanbul Metro is under construction which length of 10 km to combine both the Istanbul LRT and suburban train lines in YenikapÄ± region.
As well as Istanbul LRT, Istanbul Metro has different characteristics and uses new high technology. Firstly, all stations were designed with the cut-and-cover method which is a very common technology to building tunnel on underground construction.(12) (Mauratidis) Taksim is the major station of the railway line because it connects the heart of the city to the business areas and it is the most crowded station of the network. Thus, the importance of Istanbul Metro is growing once again. Using rolling stocks were built by the Alstom Company which is a very strong competitor in the field of creating transportation vehicle sector and also they designed the electricity system of the network. The network is supplied from two main national electricity grids in order to some unpredictable situations such as power outage. There are four transformer stations which regulate the electricity that is taken from national grids and this electrical energy is turned into usable electricity by transformers for rolling stocks. Normally, alternating current electricity flows on the national grid but transformer stations convert this electricity into the direct current electricity. Besides, there is an extending third line near the railway line on the ground and the function of this third line is to transmit the electricity from transformer stations to the vehicles. At the bottom the train, there is a kind of metal structure which connects to the third line and electricity is taken with by friction. However, while these events are occurred between the third line and vehicles, both structures can be damaged because of high friction. Therefore, maintenance and repair woks are very essential for continuing operation. After the electricity is taken from the vehicle, some structures of inside the rolling stock produce enough energy which gives power to the first movement of vehicle.
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As it can be seen above, both railway lines use different technologies and they were built by with varied techniques but both of them are very important for Istanbul to transport the public people. If compared to these two basic lines according to construction budget and using technology, there will be several aspects to understand that which railway line is very essential about transporting people.
The first category is about construction budget. The total investment cost of Istanbul LRT is approximately US$ 700 million. This budget is really too expensive to built such a this kind of railway line because this system goes through above the earth and there is no tunnel section along the railway line so that it only requires overhead line for electricity and suitable rolling stocks for transporting. The source of this problem stem from the wrong planning as it can be seen from the Istanbul LRT’s part, this line always was extended step by step until it reached the airport region. Therefore, if Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality had designed this line as an existing railway line, when faced with this budget would not have been occurred. As a consequence of incorrect planning, much of money was spent unnecessarily. On the other hand, the total investment cost of Istanbul Metro is nearly US$ 1,500 billion. This cost can be suitable for this kind of huge project because this line goes though the most populous area which is very important not only for Istanbul but also for Turkey. Moreover, there is no enough space above the earth for the purpose of that this railway line should be built underground. Otherwise, if this line was built on the surface of earth, the aim of this railway line is to solve the traffic problem that would have made even more complicated. However, the costs of extensions are too expensive because of wrong planning. For example, Maslak extension should be planned at the beginning of the construction period because it is obvious that Maslak region would be more popular than before to built tower blocks for business community. This problem clearly shows that Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality can not read the future in a good way and planning is really essential factor within railway sector.
The second category is about using technology. Istanbul LRT uses overhead line technology which is very well known system in railway sector. Overhead line is a type of electric power transmission system that includes overhead wire situated over the railway line. Vehicles that collect their electricity to produce enough torque from an overhead line system with some devices such as pantograph or trolley pole. On the other hand, Istanbul Metro was designed with third rail system which transmits electricity from the transformer station to the vehicle with using an additional rail that is called conductor rail. Conductor rail is situated approximately 20 cm far away from at the end of the sleepers over the running rail. The first investment of third rail system is really cheap according to overhead line system because this system requires only prolonged one line for transmitting electricity and no more structure needs to be built for carrying wires. However, this system is restricted to the construction area that railway line must be built along the right way for this reason construction options are limited. Moreover, when trains collect their currents from the third rail system, there is a friction between them and this friction can damage both structures. In addition, after over the years abrasion has been increased because of friction; as a result of this, maintenance costs are raising. Whereas, the budget of overhead line is quite expensive because in this system some extra structures which carry contact wire should be used for transmitting electricity and there is need to rebuild over bridges. Furthermore, this system can be built easily so that if there is enough space which has no traffic, it will be extended to the other side of regions. This system requires less maintenance budget because there is no friction between trains and overhead line system so this system can be used efficiently over the years.
In conclusion, transportation is processes which people carry out business, education, entertainment, health, and visit requests for fast arrival to the destination safely and comfortably. Historical development of human societies examined that transportation has played very critical role not only in the social life but also in the industrial areas. Therefore, transportation systems are an essential factor in shaping of the country’s economic, social and politic structure. Especially, railway systems are indispensable to society and they constitute the most important infrastructure for the city.
Early on, railway transportation systems have not been given enough attention in our country and road transportation systems have been used more frequently in urban transport until existing systems do not give good solution to transport the public people. Particularly, Istanbul has felt this problem for several years. Consequently, Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality has launched that the increasing of investments in the field of railway construction since in the late of 1980 and two important railway lines were built for solving the traffic congestion and transporting public people quickly. Nevertheless, these two lines are not enough for conveying huge amount of people with increasing population because Istanbul always are obtaining migration from the other sides of Turkey so that Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality should learn their past mistakes immediately about planning of railway construction and have to decide the best decision for building future lines.
I suggest that rail transport system should be built before the required time and where necessary is. Moreover, the cost of railway transport system should be minimized and it should be designed to the most social benefits. In addition, if transportation problem wanted to be solved completely and definitely in the city center, rail transport systems should be provided with common transportation systems. Finally, when new railway system is designed, all the necessary sub-headings should be examined carefully and all aspects should be taken into consideration.
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