Istanbul-Sofia Express

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Istanbul-Sofia Express
Istanbul-Sofia Express at Sofia.jpg
Eastbound train 493/81031 waiting to depart Sofia.
Service typeInter-city rail
LocaleBulgaria and East Thrace, Turkey
PredecessorBalkan Express
First service21 February 2017
Current operator(s)TCDD Taşımacılık, Bulgarian State Railways
TerminiHalkalı station, Istanbul
Central station, Sofia
Distance travelled571.2 km (355 mi)
Average journey time9 hours, 10 minutes (westbound)
9 hours, 49 minutes (eastbound)
Service frequencyDaily
Train number(s)492/81032 (westbound)
493/81031 (eastbound)
On-board services
Sleeping arrangementsSleeping car
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in) standard gauge

The Istanbul-Sofia Express (Turkish: Istanbul-Sofya Ekspresi, Bulgarian: Истанбул-София Експрес, Istanbul-Sofiya Ekspres) is an international passenger train operating daily between Istanbul, Turkey and Sofia, Bulgaria. The train runs 571.2 km (354.9 mi) from Halkalı station in Istanbul, west to Sofia Central Station in Sofia. The first train departed Halkalı station at 22:40 on 21 February 2017, carrying 22 passengers.[1] The Istanbul-Sofia Express is the successor to the Balkan Express, which operated between Istanbul and Belgrade, Serbia until June 2013.[2]


Train 493/81031 departs Sofia Central Station at 21:00 (EET) each day,[3] while its counterpart, train 492/81032, departs Halkalı station at 22:40 (FET) each day.[3] These two trains meet at Kapıkule, on the Turkish /Bulgarian border, where customs and passport control takes place. During non-DST days, the train enters/leaves Further-eastern European Time (UTC+3) and leaves/enters Eastern European Time (UTC+2), setting the clock forwards/backwards by one hour after crossing the border.

Between Istanbul and Dimitrovgrad the Istanbul-Sofia Express runs together with the Bosphorus Express (464/465). From Dimitrovgrad, the Bosphorus Express disconnects and heads north to Bucharest, Romania.[4]


The Istanbul-Sofia Express operates on routes owned by the Turkish State Railways (TCDD) and the Bulgarian State Railways (BDŽ).


  1. ^ "İstanbul-Sofya Ekspresi ilk seferine başladı" (in Turkish). 21 February 2017. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  2. ^ Uysal, Onur (19 April 2013). "Holiday time for Halkalı". Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  3. ^ a b "Sofia-Istanbul-Sofia" (PDF). 29 October 2017. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  4. ^ "International Trains". Retrieved 24 November 2017.

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