World’s deepest underwater railway opens

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

satellite Istanbul strait
Satellite view of Istanbul and the Bosphorus strait.

The country of Turkey, which is somewhat of a crossroads between Europe and Asia, has now opened an underwater railway that’s the first to connect the two continents. The project was first dreamed up over a hundred years ago by a sultan (Muslim ruler) named Abdul Medjid. Called the Marmaray link, the railway is part of a $4.5 billion project first launched by the government in 2004.

Turkey’s prime minister and former mayor of Istanbul, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, believes the tunnel “connects history and future, past and the future, as well as connecting continents, Marmaray connects people, nations, and countries.” Talk about a lot of connections! The grand opening took place on the 90th anniversary of the Turkish republic’s creation, October 29.

Running underneath the Bosphorus strait (a narrow passage of water connecting two seas), the railway can carry 75,000 people per hour in both directions. It is the deepest underwater tube tunnel ever built, at a depth of almost 200 feet, and is also made to be earthquake-resistant. While the tunnel runs for 8.5 miles, the distance that travels beneath the Bosphorus is only 0.8 miles long. Turkey wasn’t alone in its construction, either, as Japan sent engineers to the country.

Erdogan is known for his major construction project plans, because he’s also pushed for a mega airport, a third bridge over the Bosphorus, and a second tunnel. Not everyone is pleased, however, by the underwater tunnel. In fact, some are downright worried about it being too vulnerable against earthquakes, especially because Turkey is in a real hotspot for quaking. One of the engineers who worked on it, Riza Behçet, reportedly told The Guardian that he “would not get on the Marmaray metro line, and nobody else should either.” Yikes! If I’m ever in Istanbul, maybe I’ll stick to taking one of the many boats that travel above the Bosphorus strait.

Featured image courtesy of VikiPicture on Wikipedia