TURKEY: Minister of State Recep Onal and Japanese Foreign Minister Masahiko Koumura signed a loan agreement in Ankara on August 19 releasing the first US$117m tranche of funding for the cross-Bosporus rail link.

This follows a Memorandum of Understanding signed on March 26 under which Japan's Overseas Economic Co-operation Fund agreed to provide US$866m for the US$1·6bn project (RG 5.99 p269).

The first tranche of money will finance consultants to oversee design and tendering of the project and preliminary construction work. Marmaray combines the 13·3 km Bosporus crossing with upgrading of the existing TCDD suburban lines to create a 76·3 km high-capacity railway across the Istanbul conurbation from Gebze to Halkali.

The 1·8 km earthquake-proof immersed tube crossing will be assembled from 18 sections.