Technology reshaping the geography: high speed train in Turkey

Technological improvements reshape the geography and reorganize social interactions. Infrastructure investments fueled by new technologies have changed time and space perceptions, while having a considerable impact on development, livability, and democratization of societies. Transportation 176 developments bring about the most tangible interventions on spatial organizations and physical interactions. Starting from micro-level daily commuting, to macro-level international transport, increased accessibility in terms of travel times and affordability has led to the re-conceptualizations of real and virtual spaces. At this stage, traditional representations remained incompetent to conceptualize the virtual geographical shrinking, increased mobility, intensified interactions, and more integrated spaces introduced by new technologies. Alternative representations have been developed to overcome the issue. Time-space mapping is one of the alternatives, which uses time-distance instead of space-distance, to represent proximity of nodes in a more accurate way. Turkey has been experiencing geographical restructuring due to the recent investments on high speed train (HST), which altered the faith of intra-national transportation pattern and inter-urban proximities. Historically, rail transportation fell behind the car-based transportation in the country. Most of the railways date back to the late Ottoman Empire and the early Republican eras (from 1850s to 1940s). Investments on rail systems have remained almost insignificant after the 1940s, whereas most of the transportation investments targeted construction of highways. Increasing oil prices, environmental and safety issues, and travel time and cost concerns have led to the revival of rail systems in national transportation recently. Initially, two HST lines were put into operation in 2012 connecting two cities –Ankara and Eskisehir–. New investments were made in the past five years and today HST connects eleven urban nodes at the Central and the North-Western parts of Turkey, while additional HST lines are on the way. Travel times have been reduced almost by half, and the numbers of trips have increased in a significant way among the nodes which resulted in shrinking of space in the Central and the North-Western parts of the country. Increased mobility has not only affected travel patterns, but also enhanced social, economic and cultural interactions, which changed the role of node cities. Eskisehir and Konya, for instance, became national touristic attraction points due to improved accessibility, although both are landlocked medium-size cities in central Anatolia. This study aims to map the new time-distances in Turkey introduced by HST, using conventional train and HST data. Taking a node (a city) as the origin, the coordinates of all other nodes are calculated iteratively using travel times. Headways are also considered in calculations as a distortion factor, which is expected to have an impact on the number of trips, accordingly, on time-space proximity. After determining the new coordinates of each node, the time-space map is georeferenced, using Geographical Information Systems. Finally, a critical discussion of the impacts of HST is provided to reveal the social, economic and cultural changes that were experienced at the nodes (cities) before and after the HST investments.


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Citation Formats
M. A. Şenyel Kürkçüoğlu, “Technology reshaping the geography: high speed train in Turkey,” presented at the AESOP 2017, Lizbon, Portekiz, 2017, Accessed: 00, 2021. [Online]. Available: