Crossing the divide
Turkey opened its long-awaited Marmaray rail tunnel connecting the Asian and European sides of Istanbul on October 29, over 150 years after Ottoman sultan Abdülmecid I first dreamt up the idea. The 13.6-kilometre-long rail line connects the high-speed commuter networks on both sides of Istanbul’s continental divide, and includes a 1.4-kilometre section dug five metres underneath the 55-metre-deep Bosphorus. Originally envisaged to open in 2009, the project hit serious delays when excavators discovered their route ran through the remains of a fourth-century Byzantine port. The Marmaray is still only running limited service leading some critics to accuse the government of pushing up the inauguration for political reasons. It’s hoped the line will relieve the city’s 16-million-person chronic congestion, and create a lucrative land trade network from Europe to Asia. A ticket costs just under $2. tcdd.gov.tr.
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