From Belgium to Istanbul in less than six days thanks to new railway link

Train to Istanbul

H.Essers and Rail Cargo Austria have joined forces to launch a new direct rail link between
the Romanian city of Curtici and the Turkish city of Istanbul. H.Essers already has an existing connection between Genk in Belgium and Curtici, which runs eight times per week. Three times a week a train will now travel from Curtici to Istanbul.

The rail freight connection had been in the pipeline for some time, but the rollout has now been accelerated due to the COVID-19 crisis. “Several national borders are closed in these times of crisis”, says Hanno Reeser, Strategic Development Manager H.Essers. “However, rail transport can still go ahead mostly unhindered and is, in this sense, a reliable solution to safeguard the supply chain of our customers.”

Less than 6 days

The full lead time from terminal to terminal is less than six days. “From Curtici or Istanbul we can also serve the surrounding areas ourselves, and both locations have a high security terminal,” says Reeser. “Our intention is to increase the number of departures from Romania to Turkey to a daily frequency.”

The rail link can be used for a wide range of (hazardous) goods. Hanno Reeser: “We can transport almost any class of hazardous goods, including liquid bulk through tank container specialist Huktra, which was recently acquired by H.Essers. It is also important that the entire route is supported by our control tower, which enables our team to monitor the transport from start to finish and intervene if an issue occurs, such as temperature problems.

“For this purpose we also use our Safebox containers, which are 45-feet containers specially developed by our company for secured/cold chain transport for our strategic segments: chemicals and pharmaceuticals. They are electronically locked and monitored 24/7.”

Further expansion

H. Essers is looking into the further expansion of its network to other locations in Italy, France and Spain from Genk. It said it has been has been pursuing a sustainability strategy for some time now. “After all, rail is an indispensable asset to make transport solutions climate-friendly and to tackle the increasingly common road congestion problems. A few years ago, for example, a rail link with China was set up specifically for the pharmaceutical sector.”

Author: Majorie van Leijen

Majorie van Leijen is the editor-in-chief of, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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