Ankara - Sivas high speed line testing (3)

TURKEY: Completion of the Ankara – Sivas high speed line is facing more potential delays because of an error in the excavation of emergency access tunnels.

A member of parliament for the city of Sivas, Ulaş Karasu, has asked Transport Minister Adil Karaismailoğlu to explain why around 2 000 m of service and evacuation tunnels bored as part of works on the T18 tunnel near Yıldızeli are being refilled. A parliamentary hearing was told that the bores had been ‘incorrectly designed’, and Karasu asked whether new tunnels would need to be excavated or whether the T18 tunnel could open for rail services without the access routes.

These problems are the latest to cause potential delay to the 405 km high speed line linking Sivas with the capital. Work on the route began as long ago as 2008, requiring some 291 km of new alignment between Yerköy and Sivas. This cuts almost 200 km off the distance by rail between the two cities compared to the existing line. However, the new corridor passes through challenging terrain which has necessitated the construction of seven tunnels and four viaducts.

In a statement to parliament, infrastructure manager TCDD confirmed in mid-June that it had encountered subsidence problems over an 80 km section of the route. A lowering of the ground water level in the affected locations had led to the deferral of the railway’s most recent scheduled opening date of September 4 last year. This was the seventh time that the completion had been postponed.

However, Karaismailoğlu said certification of the 315 km section between Balıseyh and Sivas had been completed, and with 99% of civil works now finished, he predicted the line would open by the end of this year. Services are planned to run at up to 250 km/h, cutting the journey time between Ankara and Sivas from 12 h today to 2 h 51 min.