News / Europe

Bosphorus Tunnel Opens Linking Europe, Asia

An engineer performs a last check on a train that will travel through Marmaray tunnel, a subway that links Europe with Asia some 60 meters below the Bosphorus Strait, in Istanbul, Oct. 29, 2013.
An engineer performs a last check on a train that will travel through Marmaray tunnel, a subway that links Europe with Asia some 60 meters below the Bosphorus Strait, in Istanbul, Oct. 29, 2013.
Dorian Jones
— For the first time, Turkey has connected its European and Asian sides with a railway tunnel. The Marmaray tunnel, which runs underneath the Bosphorus Strait, will link the Asian and European shores of Istanbul. Concerns and criticism, however, surround what is being described as one of the country's greatest-ever engineering projects.
 
Tuesday’s opening ceremony for the Marmaray railway tunnel drew thousands. Addressing the crowds, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan invoked the country’s historical past.
 
It was the dream of Sultan Abdulmescid [the Ottoman sultan from 1839 to 1861] to build this tunnel, he said.

"Today we have fulfilled this dream. We have many historical projects to finish for Turkey and Istanbul. This is in the service of the people," said Erdogan.
 
The tunnel is the deepest of its kind. With a capacity of more than one million passengers a day, the $4-billion project aims to alleviate the city’s chronically congested traffic.
 
With Istanbul vulnerable to earthquakes, though, questions have been raised over the tunnel's safety.  

Japanese P.M. Shinzo Abe, Turkey's P.M. Tayyip Erdogan's wife, Emine Erdogan, P.M. Erdogan, President of Somalia Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, President of Turkey Abdullah Gul attend opening ceremony of Marmaray tunnel, in Istanbul, Oct. 29, 2013.Japanese P.M. Shinzo Abe, Turkey's P.M. Tayyip Erdogan's wife, Emine Erdogan, P.M. Erdogan, President of Somalia Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, President of Turkey Abdullah Gul attend opening ceremony of Marmaray tunnel, in Istanbul, Oct. 29, 2013.
x
Japanese P.M. Shinzo Abe, Turkey's P.M. Tayyip Erdogan's wife, Emine Erdogan, P.M. Erdogan, President of Somalia Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, President of Turkey Abdullah Gul attend opening ceremony of Marmaray tunnel, in Istanbul, Oct. 29, 2013.
Japanese P.M. Shinzo Abe, Turkey's P.M. Tayyip Erdogan's wife, Emine Erdogan, P.M. Erdogan, President of Somalia Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, President of Turkey Abdullah Gul attend opening ceremony of Marmaray tunnel, in Istanbul, Oct. 29, 2013.
Safety concerns

Professor Celal Sengor, a professor of geology at Istanbul Technical University, said care has been taken to ensure the tunnel’s safety.
 
"I did the preliminary groundwork for Marmaray," said Sengor. "There is no active fault line where the tunnel is passing. This tunnel will be shaken in a quake, but if it is built in the best possible way, there won't be any risk of it breaking. And those people who built this tunnel are the best in their field."
 
Still, as Erdogan moves ahead with a number of large infrastructure projects in Istanbul, criticism is growing.
 
Critics accuse the government of going ahead with city-changing plans without sufficient public consultation. Such concerns fueled the protests that swept Turkey in June.

The tunnel project began in 2004 and was scheduled to be completed in four years. It was delayed by important archaeological finds, however, including a 4th century Byzantine port, as builders began digging under the city.

According to media reports, the tunnel project was rushed so that its completion would coincide with the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Turkish Republic, which was marked on Tuesday.  

Grand ambitions

The government has downplayed such claims, and it has stressed the potential of the tunnel not only for Istanbul, but far beyond.
 
Transport Minister Binali Yildirim said it ultimately will become an important trade link, allowing freight trains to travel from Beijing to London.  

"This project connects Asia with Europe, to restore the once internationally important Silk Road," said Yildirim. "The Silk Road needs to be resurrected for the purposes of reconnecting vital trade arteries between Asia and Europe by rail."
 
Analysts say the tunnel is the latest in a series of increasingly grandiose projects aimed at making Istanbul a world center.
 
Political analyst Atilla Yesilada said such projects are seen as key for the ruling AK Party to remain in power.
 
"Their ambitions have no limit. If you look at the GDP figures in the first half of 2013, it is mostly government infrastructure spending that has created the entire growth," he said. "If the growth rate decelerates or the currency weakens, confidence in AKP will be shaken."

Construction already is underway in Istanbul for a separate tunnel that's being built under the Bosphorus for cars, a third bridge over the strait, a massive canal that would bypass the Bosphorus, and the world's largest airport. In addition, with Turkey entering 18 months of election campaigning culminating in a general election in 2015, analysts say few people expect the current construction boom to end anytime soon.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid