Growing concerns over environmental issues and the increasing role of the transport sector in creating environmental pollution have had a significant impact on transport policies and investments worldwide. There is increasing emphasis on the importance of transporting people and goods in the most sustainable ways, and the role that environmentally friendly modes, and particularly railways, should play in transport. It appears that in Turkey too a policy shift has taken place in favour of rail transport as a consequence of both environmental concerns and the will to integrate into international transport networks, and consequently international markets. This paper summarizes research that looks into the policy documents, annual investment programmes, and actual investments in the transport field in Turkey within the past two decades. While a policy shift in favour of railway development can be observed in policy documents, the study shows that actual investment has been extremely limited for the improvement and expansion of the railways in Turkey. The paper focuses on this gap between policy and practice in national transport network development, and aims to discuss why it currently is, and may continue to be, difficult for Turkey to deliver successfully a pro-rail policy. The discussion helps one understand how a country's transport history, past policies and mobility traditions affect the delivery of new policies, particularly when they represent a significant policy shift.