Marmaray, the first railway tunnel that links two continents, Asia and Europe, should not be seen exclusively from this point of view, but first of all as a tunnel that links two parts of Istanbul. The tunnel will, of course, play its part in the railway Silk Road once the route Baku – Tbilisi – Kars will be commissioned, but for now it is dedicated to passenger transport, not freight transport. Istanbul, with over 16 million people, is one of the largest and most crowded cities and like other large cities, it is suffocated by a hellish daily traffic.
This third connection between its parts was absolutely necessary; apart from the existing two road bridges, the usefulness of a railway tunnel that would reduce the travel time from one bank of the Bosporus to the other became irrefutable.
After long delays and postponements of the commissioning day (works have been delayed by important archaeological disco-veries unearthed by accident during excavations, among which Theodosius byzantine port built in the 4th century), the citizens witnessed the inauguration of the tunnel on 29 October during the celebration of 90 years since Turkey has became republic.
By using this bridge, the citizens can say “goodbye” to the two hours, maybe more, of a journey between the Asian and the European parts of the city prior to the inauguration of the rail tunnel.
What are the benefits that Marmaray Tunnel brings to the city of Istanbul? It provides a long-term solution to the actual urban transport problems in the city, improves the existing operation problems related to the main rail transport services, and ensures direct connection between the railway systems in Asia and Europe. Also, the project means increased capacity, reliability, accessibility, punctuality and safety for commuter rail transport services. On the long-run, it will ensure a seamless passenger and freight transport in the Bosporus region.
The Turkish authorities have provided several statistical data aimed to strengthen the role and utility of Marmaray Tunnel. Thus, in 2015, the number of passengers crossing the tunnel on a daily basis is estimated at 1,500,000 and at 1,700,000 for 2025. Calculated per hour, the total number of passengers will be 65,000 in 2015 and 75,000 in 2025.
The authorities hope that by taking over 1,500,000 passengers every day, the tunnel will partially decongest traffic in Istanbul, especially in the area of the two bridges that cross the Bosporus.
“This is just one of the large transport projects that Turkey will develop over the next years. Marmaray railway tunnel is an indicator of economic development in Turkey”, said Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Minister of Transport Binali Yildirim pointed out that “this rail tunnel contri-butes not only to Turkey’s development, but also to the economic development of neighbouring countries”.
In the future, two rail high-speed lines will connect Marmaray tunnel, so that the city will add another 63 km of rail transport.
The total cost of these projects, of connecting two railways to Marmaray tunnel, amounts to TRY 9 Billion (EUR 3.5 Billion).