World Bulletin/News Desk
A new draft law on privatization is set to open the country's railways to private operation, a move that comes as government debate grows over what parts of the country's transportation infrastructure should be privatized.
The bill, submitted to Parliament by Transportation Minister Binali Yıldırım earlier this week, would keep the physical rail network itself in state hands, but auction off train operator Turkish State Railways (TCDD), which has a monopoly on the country's freight and passenger lines. The Transportation Ministry said on Thursday that once the bill is passed, it will accept applications for new passenger train line and freight operators.
The ministry also announced that the government's rapid rail network, which operates between the Anatolian cities of Ankara and Eskişehir, would also be put up for privatization. It nonetheless stated that the government would continue to maintain the tracks and trains with state funds. State personnel working on national rail lines would be dismissed with a severance packages worth 40 percent of their annual salary.
The bill, expected to enter into law by the end of this year, may spur criticism for its plans to transfer the taxpayer-funded high speed rail link to private hands. The government has also shown hesitancy in its privatization programs for the state road network, with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stating last month that a $5.72 billion road privatization contract will be canceled.Last Mod: 09 Mart 2013, 15:07