Istanbul-Ankara speed railway may open in Feb

Istanbul-Ankara speed railway may open in Feb

Turkey's high-speed railway (YHT) between Istanbul and Ankara will be opened by the first months of the next year, Transport Minister Binali Yildirim said yesterday. In addition to this, some 86 billion Turkish Liras ($43 billion) worth of transport, communication and maritime projects will be completed in five or six years, he noted Hurriyetdailynews reported.

The government plans to construct high-speed and normal railways in the 15 cities in which majority of the population lives, said Yildirim during the ministry's 2014 budget presentation at the Parliament's Plan and Budget Commission.

Yildirim stated that they had begun testing for the Istanbul-Ankara YHT. "We'll begin the initiation of the Ankara-Istanbul YHT," he said, adding that it may open February.

The Ankara-Istanbul YHT will also be linked to the Marmaray, Istanbul's massive rail tunnel project that was opened on Oct. 29 and carries passengers under the Bosphorus, through the Pendik suburban train station. It enabled an uninterrupted trek from Asia to Europe. The journey between Istanbul and Ankara is expected to last three hours.

Yildirim recalled the private sector's involvement in railway transportation. A draft code, presented to Parliament on March 6, aimed to establish a company under the name Turkish State Railways (TCDD) Transport AŞ for train management units. Public and private legal entities and firms will be licensed to build their own railway infrastructure, become infrastructure operators on these railways and manage trains on the national railway network as well.

The minister noted that they aimed for full integration with their neighbors by railway. "The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project will come into operation by the end of next year at the latest. This is a project carried out by three countries. It isn't enough to complete it unilaterally," Yildirim said.

86 bln lira-projects to be finished in 6 years

Yildirm stated that they anticipated the projects in the transport, communication and maritime sectors, which total 86 billion Turkish Liras, would be complete within five or six years.

He said the government made 268 billion lira investments in these three sectors in the last decade. There are currently 460 main projects, as the number reached approximately 3,900 with the sub-projects added, he said.

"The investment volume of these projects is 184.5 billion liras. As the realized part is worth 98.2 billion liras, the rest is worth 86 billion liras and is expected to be completed within five or six years," he said.

Yildirim noted that some projects in the transport, communication and maritime sectors worth 47 billion liras were contracted within the public-private sector partnership (PPP) model, as alternative financing. 6 billion liras of those projects are complete, he added.

Istanbul's third bridge and third airport projects are based on PPP model.

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