The train line connecting Istanbul’s European side suburb Halkali with Gebze district of Kocaeli province on the east was opened to service with an official ceremony on March 12 with the participation of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan upon the completion of a six-year-long renovation process.
The renovation of the train line, which had been closed since 2013 due to construction, was initially planned to be completed in two years. But when the working company gave up the job due to high costs in 2014, the process was postponed, but to be resumed in 2015.
Many stations were also restored as part of the project, only a few have not been renovated. The line covers a total of 43 stations.
During the official ceremony which took place in Istanbul’s Kartal district on the Asian side on March 12, Erdogan said that passengers will be able to travel from Gebze to Halkalı in just one hour and 55 minutes thanks to the newly opened line. “Gebze-Halkali train line used to take 185 minutes in the past, but now it will take 115 minutes, meaning it will save Istanbulites 1 hour and 10 minutes [on way],” he said.
“This line which has Istanbul’s most busy and therefore most heavily-trafficked route, will carry 75,000 passengers in an hour in one way, and almost 1.7 million passengers a day. In other terms, this line will by itself carry a number of passengers who can be normally transported with 100,000 vehicles,” Erdogan said.
“Istanbul’s 10 districts will have the opportunity to use this line directly. It will relieve the Istanbul traffic in an important way,” he said.
The 76.6-kilometer railway line also includes the Marmara, which is a 13.5 km long undersea railway tunnel in Istanbul, Turkey, beneath the Bosporus strait, linking the European and Asian continents.
“Of course, the Marmaray is the most strategic section of this project that establishes its connection between the two continents. We, by constructing the Marmaray, have connected the two train lines,” Erdogan said, referring to the train lines of Halkali-Sirkeci and Haydarasa-Gebze.
“We have renewed this line almost from the scratch and gave it a new frame. Of course, to cover Istanbul from one end to another end was a difficult task. Up until now, I congratulate everyone who has labored for the Gebze-Halkali suburban train line to be added to our city,” Erdogan said, adding that the six-year-long renovation process of the line “had costed a total of 1.4 billion euros, meaning 8.5 billion Turkish Liras.”
With the addition of this line, the length of Istanbul’s railway system extended from 170 kilometers to 233 kilometers, Erdogan further noted.
Following the ceremony, Erdogan took the driver’s seat of the first official train which departed from Kartal station. He was accompanied by the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) Istanbul mayoral candidate Binali Yildirim during his journey.
Hurriyet Daily News