In 1955 the first railway in Turkey was electrified, on the 28-kilometre (17 mi) commuter rail from Sirkeci to Halkalı in Istanbul. In addition to delivery of 18 electric multiple units, TCDD wanted to be able to use electrical engines instead of steam engines on long-haul trains on the last few kilometers into Istanbul.
Because the line the locomotives were to serve on was flat and did not allow high speeds, the E4000 was a simple and conservative locomotive, utilizing a direct, single phase AC motor fed directly from the transformer. But even by 1957 the development of rectifiers directly fed AC motors obsolete. The design of the locomotives are based on Paul Arzens of Alsthom, and resemble many of the concurrent locomotives produced by them.