INTRO: Faced with worsening traffic congestion, Turkey’s third largest city has embarked upon the construction of a light rail network that will eventually total 50 km. Under a turnkey contract awarded to the ABB-Yapi Merkezi-Adtranz consortium, the first 11·5 km is scheduled to open during 1998

BYLINE: Lennart Gunnarsson

Project ManagerAdtranz Sweden

TURKEY’S RAPID economic development, combined with a huge increase in the population of its largest cities, has resulted in a growing demand for transport. Izmir is already facing worsening traffic congestion, and its population is expected to grow from 2million to 3 or 4million by 2010. With its public transport system close to breaking point, Izmir decided to follow Istanbul and Ankara in adopting light rail.

The contract for the 11·5 km first stage of Izmir’s light rail network, which became effective in June 1994, was awarded to the same consortium that built Istanbul’s 19·3 km light metro line - Adtranz of Sweden (formerly ABB Traction), ABB and the Turkish construction company Yapi Merkezi. The long-term plans envisage that this initial section will gradually be extended to a total length of 50 km.

The current situation in Izmir, with the number of private cars constantly rising and air pollution steadily increasing, is acute and light rail is seen as representing the most logical, effective and environmentally-sound solution.

Comfort, easy accessibility and punctuality have proved extremely attractive to commuters, and shown clearly that it is possible to combine metropolitan life with efficient transport. Speed is another advantage. While car traffic sometimes moves at a modest 10 km/h, passengers on modern light rail lines move along at speeds up to 80 km/h.

Izmir’s light rail is designed to offer a relatively high passenger capacity per hour, but at a lower capital cost than alternatives such as heavy metro or suburban rail. Running costs will be kept low through the adoption of energy-saving measures such as regenerative braking; maintenance costs will be minimised by the use of reliable, tried and tested technology. At the same time, the network must be compatible with the existing urban environment and transport system. A challenge facing the contractors is to integrate the light rail line with Izmir’s historic, and in some cases vulnerable, fabric.

Stage 1 works

The 50 km network will eventually comprise a central core route and four branches to the suburbs of