Source: DAILY SABAH
The long-awaited Marmaray project, revamping the existing suburban rail line with a tunnel connecting the sections separated by the Bosporus, finally came into service with all sections opening on Tuesday.
The line, operated by the Turkish State Railways (TCDD) was opened in a ceremony in the Kartal district on the Asian side of Istanbul. Following a ceremony, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan took the driver’s seat of the first official train departing from Kartal station. Former Parliament Speaker and Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım — the Istanbul mayoral candidate of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in the upcoming March 31 local elections who served as transport minister for 14 years — accompanied Erdoğan at the ceremony, along with Transport and Communication Minister Cahit Turhan and his predecessor Ahmet Arslan.
“This line, which is the busiest and most heavily-trafficked route in Istanbul, will carry 75,000 passengers in an hour and 1.7 million passengers per day. In other words, this suburban rail line will carry passengers that would normally require 100,000 vehicles,” Erdoğan said.
Stating that they have brought Istanbul to a whole different level not only in terms of transportation but also drinking water, air quality, cleaning of Golden Horn, zoning and green spaces, Erdoğan said: “Thank God, our efforts are being repaid by making Istanbul the most popular city on earth. This is the reason why Istanbul was visited by as many tourists as its population (15 million) last year, although this number is far below Istanbul’s potential. We are determined to bring Istanbul from eighth place among most visited cities in the world to the top spots.”
The president noted that Istanbul’s 10 districts will be able to use this line, which will greatly reduce the congestion on bridges crossing the Bosporus and the historic peninsula area.
With regular service covering 43 stations, it takes 115 minutes (1 hour 55 minutes) for a train departing from northwestern Kocaeli’s Gebze district neighboring Istanbul, the eastern terminus of the Marmaray, to reach Halkalı, the western terminus of the line located in the Küçükçekmece district of the European side. The previous route took nearly 3 hours including crossing the Bosporus with a ferry between Asian terminus Haydarpaşa and European terminus Sirkeci.
The 76.6-kilometer Gebze-Halkalı railway line includes the 13.6-kilometer Marmaray, an intercontinental subway that connects the Asian and European sides of the city through a submerged tunnel under the Bosporus. The Marmaray has been serving two stations on the Asian side and three on the European side since 2013.
The line currently has connections with M1A, M1B, M2 metro lines at Yenikapı station, T1 tram line at Sirkeci station, M5 metro line at Üsküdar station, M4 metro line at Ayrılık Çeşmesi and İçmeler stations and the Metrobus line at Söğütlüçeşme station. In the future, six more metro lines will have connections with Marmaray.
In previous statements, Minister Turhan said that 63 kilometers of double lines and existing stations — consisting of the 43.8-kilometer link from Ayrılık Çeşmesi to Gebze on the Asian side and 19.2-kilometer line from Kazlıçeşme to Halkalı on the European side — have been removed. All the infrastructure and stations have been rebuilt as part of the project that will reduce the travel time between the two lines to 115 minutes from 185 minutes.
“All the infrastructure and stations have been rebuilt to allow three lines on the same route. The Marmaray trains will use two lines in the north from among the three new lines to be built. Suburban operation could be actualized at the subway standard at two-minute intervals. The third line in the south will be used by intercity passenger and freight trains and high-speed trains. A total of 10 units of siding has been constructed to ensure the two-way high-speed train operation on this line.”
Recalling that a total of 38 new stations, 27 on the Asian side and 11 on the European side, have been built, Turhan noted that seven of them (Gebze, Pendik, Maltepe, Bostancı, Söğütlüçeşme, Bakırköy and Halkalı) will be intercity train-suburban train transfer stations.
The other 31 stations will only serve Marmaray trains as suburban stations. He further stated that two viaducts, 27 highway underpasses, 29 pedestrian underpasses, 21 highway overpasses, 12 pedestrian overpasses, 19 river-crossing bridges and 60 culverts have been rebuilt.
According to Turhan, as part of the project which will start passenger transportation this year, the Gebze-Halkalı high-speed train line will be ready and put into operation along with the Ankara-Istanbul high-speed train line. Thus, a high-speed train departing from Ankara will reach Istanbul and will be able to stop in Gebze, Pendik, Maltepe, Bostancı, Söğütlüçeşme, Bakırköy and Halkalı.