TURKEY: Construction of a fixed link between the European and Asian parts of the Turkish rail network could get under way next year, according to Transport Minister Necdet Menzir. He was speaking at a seminar organised by the State Planning Office on February 23 to unveil the latest proposals to potential financiers and construction companies.

Now known as Marmaray, the project combines an immersed tube crossing of the Bosporus with a 63 km high-capacity suburban railway from Gebze to Halkali, creating a 76·3 km corridor across the Istanbul conurbation. Construction of the suburban line is expected to take two years, and the tunnel around four.

Marmaray will probably be tendered on the basis of a BOO or BOT concession, with the promoters expected to recoup their 60 to 70% investment after seven or eight years. The suburban line is costed at around US$600m, with the Bosporus tunnel priced at US$650m. Most of the land required already belongs to Turkish State Railways, helping to keep the overall cost down. State funding for the scheme will come from commercial development of various sites in Bakurk, Sirkeci and Bostanci.