The Marmaray Tunnel, İstanbul, Turkey

An underwater railway tunnel has opened in Turkey that links Europe to Asia and the east and west sides of Instanbul.  The system was one that was proposed 150 years ago by an Ottoman sultan.



Running under the Bosporus strait, the 190-foot deep, 8.5 miles long tunnel was unveiled yesterday, on the 90th anniversary of the Turkish Republic, after eight years of construction. The project, which started in 2005, was originally slated for completion by 2009 but was delayed after digging unearthed important historical artifacts such as a fourth century Byzantine port. Using the same immersed-tube method utilized in other underwater railway tunnels, the Marmaray was created section by section and is deemed the world’s deepest of its type.

Istanbul city officials hope the Marmaray tunnel, capable of transporting up to 1.5 million passengers a day, will help ease the flow of traffic from the two existing bridges on either side of the city. Another future hope is to make the tunnel a permanent part of the train route for rail travel between China and Western Europe.

Concerns have been brought up over whether the Marmaray tunnel might be damaged by earthquakes, as it is situated in an area with high seismic activity. However, the tunnel was deemed “the safest place in Istanbul” by the Turkish Transportation Minister and is built to withstand earthquakes up to a high magnitude of 9.0, as its tube sections are reinforced with shock-resistant flexible joints. Let’s hope that’s true, because there’s probably nothing more terrifying than being drowned alive in a railway tunnel, right?

Photo credit: Rail Turkey

Via Dvice