From Tuesday onward, Oct. 29 will not only be commemorated as the anniversary of the founding of the Turkish Republic, but the day a giant transportation project, the Marmaray, connecting İstanbul’s Asian and European sides via an undersea commuter train line, was inaugurated, fulfilling an Ottoman sultan’s dream from 153 years ago.

The project aims to ease İstanbul’s heavy traffic and reduce travel time between the two sides of the Bosporus to four minutes. Marmaray, the world’s first undersea tunnel connecting two continents, will carry 75,000 passengers per hour and around 1 million passengers per day.

On Tuesday, a 13.6-kilometer section of the 76.3-kilometer project is being launched. Until the project is completed, the Marmaray will run from Ayrılıkçeşme on the Anatolian side to Kazlıçeşme on the European side. A ride on the line will cost TL 1.95.

After numerous test runs of the Marmaray tube were conducted, officials announced that İstanbulites will be able to start using the service on Tuesday.

The Marmaray line connects the Sirkeci and Haydarpaşa commuter train lines with an undersea tunnel beneath the Bosporus Strait. The complete line will consist of three underground stations in İstanbul’s Yenikapı, Sirkeci and Üsküdar districts and 36 above-ground stations. The Ayrılıkçeşme station will serve as a transfer station for the Kadıköy-Kartal subway line.

Speaking at the International Silk Road Conference in İstanbul on Monday, Transportation, Maritime Affairs and Communications Minister Binali Yıldırım said the Marmaray is more than just a Turkish project to improve public transportation in İstanbul, but part of the Silk Road, which has served humanity for centuries, connecting Asia and Europe.

“This is a project of reuniting civilizations. The Silk Road is not only a caravan route but a road that links Western and Eastern civilizations,” he said.

Before Tuesday’s landmark opening, the project was presented to journalists on Sunday by municipal officials. Yıldırım was scheduled to have dinner on Monday with representatives of the company that built the Marmaray and workers who took part in the construction of the tunnel. see more

source: todayszaman