Turkey launches undersea commuter train

Updated: 2013-10-30 10:54


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Turkey launches undersea commuter train

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (R), Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan (3rd R) and President of Somalia Hassan Sheikh Mohamud (2nd R) stand around Turkey's President Abdullah Gul (seated) as he rides the ceremonial service of a train during the opening ceremony of Marmaray, a subway links Europe with Asia some 60 metres below the Bosphorus Strait, in Istanbul October 29, 2013. Turkey opened the world's first underwater rail link between two continents on Tuesday, connecting Asia and Europe and allowing PM Erdogan to realise a project dreamt up by Ottoman sultans more than a century ago. [Photo/Agencies]

ISTANBUL - Turkey officially launched an undersea commuter train connecting the Asian and European sides of Istanbul on Tuesday.

President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan attended the inauguration together with more than 10,000 people besides the Bosporus strait.

The government launched the project to mark the 90th anniversary of the founding of the republic.

The project aims to ease Istanbul's heavy traffic and reduce travel time between the two sides of the Bosporus to four minutes. Marmaray, the name given to the undersea tunnel that will connect the two continents, will carry 75,000 passengers per hour and around 1 million passengers per day.

On Tuesday, a 13.6 kilometer section of the 76.3 kilometer project is being launched after numerous test runs of the Marmaray tube were conducted.

Speaking at the International Silk Road Conference in Istanbul on Monday, Binali Yildir m, minister of the transportation, maritime affairs and communications ministry, said the Marmaray is more than just a Turkish project to improve public transportation in Istanbul, but part of the Silk Road, which has served humanity for centuries, connecting Asia and Europe.

"This is a project of reuniting civilizations. The Silk Road is not only a caravan route but a road that links Western and Eastern civilizations," he said.