By Manolis Kostidis – Istanbul
The subsea tunnel of Istanbul that will connect Europe with Asia by rail through the waters of Bosporus is inaugurated today.
The project is called Marmaray and is inaugurated Ocotber 29th which marks the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Turkish Republic. It will be launched by Turkish President Abdullah Gul, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe.
Construction of Marmaray begun in 2006 and the total cost of the project has reached USD 4 billion. The subsea tunnel is 1.4 kilometers in length while the entire project which consists of 5 stations is 13.6 kilometers long.
It is estimated that one million passengers will move between the two shores on a daily basis.
The distance on both shores of the Bosporus will be covered in just 3.5 minutes. The underwater tunnel was built by Japanese engineers at a depth of 60 meters. Turkish construction companies took part in the construction of the project under the guidance of the Japanese.
The project is considered important because until today the two shores of Bosporus were connected only by road via the two Bosporus bridges; this is the first time a railway connection will be put in operation.
Marmaray was built alongside the Anatolian fault and could withstand earthquakes as large as 7.5 points on the Richter scale.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan considers Marmaray to be one of the most important works during his time in office and this is why he wanted the inauguration to coincide with the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Turkish Republic.
The next goal of the Erdogan government, as announced, is for Turkey to be amongst the richest and most developed countries in the world by 2023, on the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Republic.
The PM’s critics say the inauguration was called on this day to undermine the significance of the founding of the Republic of Turkey and its founder, Kemal Ataturk.