Turkey to inaugurate Bosphorus rail tunnel that links Europe and Asia

It is for the first time Turkey has joined its European and Asian sides by inaugurating a railway tunnel thereby also fulfilling a vision first proposed by Ottoman sultan Abdulmejid about 150 years ago to connect the two continents.

The Europe-Asia linking tunnel:

The tunnel is 13.6km long, with 1.4km running under the Bosphorus, the strait that connects the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara, and divides Istanbul between Asia and Europe. The tunnel is part of a larger “Marmaray” project that also includes an upgrade of existing suburban train lines to create a 76-kilometre (47-mile) line that links the two continents. Built at more than 55-metres underground, it will be the deepest submerged railway tunnel of its type in the world. Turkey hopes that with 1.5 million passengers a day, it will ease some of Istanbul’s chronic traffic jams, particularly over the two bridges that currently connect the two sides of the city.

The project work began in 2005 and was scheduled to be completed in four years. But it was delayed by important archaeological finds, including a 4th century Byzantine port, as builders started digging under the city.

Japan Bank for International Cooperation was the main financier contributing 735 million euros ($1 billion) to the project.

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