Turkey: Alcohol no longer served on high-speed trains

High-speed train in Turkey Image copyright AFP
Image caption Turkey's high-speed trains are among the government's most ambitious projects

Turkey's high-speed railways are now completely alcohol-free, after operator Besler decided to stop selling intoxicating drinks on trains between the capital Ankara and the western town of Eskisehir.

The hour-and-a-half journey was the only remaining high-speed line where passengers could still enjoy a sip on board, writes Hurriyet Daily News. Speaking to the paper, a company official insists the decision was purely economic and was taken due to poor sales on high-speed carriages. He says that alcohol will still be served on long-distance, conventional trains. Hurriyet recalls that Turkish Airlines also cited a lack of demand when they stopped serving alcohol on most domestic flights last year.

Health statistics from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development seem to back such reasoning. They show Turkey's consumption rate is just 1.6 litres of alcohol per capita annually, the lowest among all 34 member states. The measure, however, ties in with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's long-running anti-alcohol campaign. Last year, his Islamist-rooted ruling AK party passed a controversial law in parliament restricting the sale and advertising of alcohol. It was slammed by critics as a new move to impose an Islamic agenda on a secular, though predominantly Muslim, country.

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