Urban transport sustainability policies aim to encourage a greater use of public transport and an improvement in service provision. However, governments are usually strapped for capital investment funds, and there are planning and financing problems that either delay LRT and street tramway improvements and/or hinder their utilisation. During the past decade, rail developments have dominated Turkish urban and national transport policies: many new lines have been opened and others are under construction. Turkey now has eight cities with LRT or tramway lines (in addition to the three major cities of Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir). Based on analyses of unpublished data from transport master plans, and from interviews conducted with planning experts who worked on such master plans, and from political leaders, this paper assesses how effectively these smaller cities have planned and financed their LRT and trams, and how efficiently they are operated. How well Turkey performs with its urban LRT and tramway developments within the context of an international "railway renaissance" is also critically assessed. In Turkey, the PPP modality of financing (mostly in the form of BOT) is favoured for highway investment whereas many of the railway projects still require international loans. A greater role for the private sector in Turkey is recommended to reinforce this embryonic railway renaissance and to ensure greater operational and financial sustainability. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.