Turkish President Cuts Ribbon on Asia-Europe Commuter Rail Link
The long-awaited, long-delayed spine of Istanbul’s regional rail transit network finally entered service along its entire length March 9.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan cut the ribbon to formally open the entire 77-km (47.8-mile) Marmaray rail line, which runs from Gebze in Asia to Halkali in Europe via an already-in-service 13.6-km (8.5-mile) subway tunnel that crosses under the Bosporus. Both the International Railway Journal and Railway Gazette International reported on the opening, which brings to a conclusion a project 15 years in the making.
Work on the project, which also links Asian and European long-distance rail networks, began in 2004 with the construction of the immersed-tube Bosporus tunnel. The first trains carried passengers through it in 2013, four years after it was supposed to have opened. That same year, service on the regional rail lines that would feed it from the Asian and European sides was suspended so that upgrading and reconstruction could take place. Work on that project was delayed once and suspended once due to problems with contractors, resulting in another four-year delay in opening.
The reconstruction project added a third track to the two-track surface routes; this track will carry long-distance passenger and freight trains. It also rebuilt 27 stations on the Asian side of Istanbul and 11 on the European side.
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