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Karkamış to Nusaybin

History and description

This line is part of the Baghdad Railways and was openned in two stages:

  • in 1914 for the first leg from Karkamış to Ceylanpınar
  • in 1918 for the second part from Ceylanpınar to Nusaybin.

This line became of strategic importance during the 1st world war: at the begining of the war, is was the supply artery to the Ottoman armies fighting against the British in Mesopotamia. At the end of the war, the British Middle East Forces had conquered Mesopotamia and Palestine and this area became the front were the the Ottoman armies had retreated.

After the 1st world war, this area was cedeed to French control but Turkish Nationnalist lead by Atatürk fought to regain control of Cilicia. The French agreed to evacuate Cilicia in 1921. In the subsequent French Turkish Angora accord (Franklin-Bouillon accord), the border between French controlled Syria and Turkey was placed along the line, for lack of a better landmark. This border was confirmed by the Lausane treaty in 1923, the line itself was placed in Turkey. This quite unique situation remains to this day.

Nusaybin remained the terminus of the Badghad railway until July 1940 when the extension to Baghdad for officially inaugurated. This enabled trough running of the Taurus express from Istanbul to Baghdad and provided at last an intertantional openning for this line. Unfornutaly, the line never became the big international corridor it was meant to be and the traffic always remained quite light. Difficulties are compounded by the instability in this area leading to frequent border closing either to Syria or to Irak (or both!).

The only major town on this line is Ceylanpınar, all the other stops serve small village, the station being there only to provide passing sidings alongs this single line. Interstingly, both Karkamış and Nusaybin have large twin towns on the Syrian side.

This line does not present any major difficulties and was quickly laid, following the edge of the mountains. The terrain is almost flat and was sparsely populated at the time. No tunneling was required and the only significant civil engineering is the 800m bridge crossing the Euphrate 2 km after Karkamış station. This bridge is followed by a climb of 220m in about 48km to get out of the Euphrate valley.

Stations and halts

771,8KarkamışSee Narlı to Karkamış
Junction with the line Çobanbey to Karkamış & Alep - Turntable
1038,3ŞenyurtJuntion with the branch to Şenyurt to Mardin
Triangle junction - maybe disused?
1096,9NusaybinBorder to Syria - Turntable