The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union’s financing institution, is providing €200mn to Turkey for the first fixed rail connection of the European and Asian networks across the Bosphorus Straits.

This is the first loan of a larger facility of up to €650mn approved by the EIB for the tunnel. Financing under this facility will be phased over the period of the project’s construction.

The tunnel gives to the trans-European rail networks (TENS) access to Asia. It will also reduce air and noise pollution by enabling a major shift from road to rail and alleviating congestion on the road network.

Located in metropolitan Istanbul, the rail link also provides for a long-sought mass transport system for the city’s 11mn inhabitants, overcoming a natural barrier cutting the city in two.

The project connects the two railway lines on the Pan-European Transport Corridor IV, presently terminating on either side of the Bosphorus, through a tunnel. With a total length of 76.53km, the project includes the construction of 13.56km of double track tunnel (of which 1.35km is under the sea and 12.21km of approach tunnels), improvements to the two existing radial lines with an addition of a third track on a length of 62.97km, 40 stations, connections with other transport networks and rolling stock.