Turkey on Thursday started rail tunnel excavations of the Marmaray Project, which will connect Europe and Asia beneath the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul, the semi- official Anatolia news agency reported.
In a speech at a ceremony held in Istanbul to start digging tunnels, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the project launched in 2004 will surely facilitate transportation in the city.
"We have been realizing Marmaray (Project), a 100-year dream for Istanbul, today," said Erdogan.
He noted that transportation between the two sides of the strait will only be four minutes after the project is completed, adding that the project will increase the passenger capacity of the suburban railway to 75,000 from 10,000.
The Marmaray Project includes construction of a rail tube tunnel beneath the Bosphorus Strait and upgrading of 76 km of the city's suburban rail line connecting Halkali on the European side with Gebze on the Asian side.
The project, which is expected to cost 2.5 billion euros, is funded by Japan Bank for International Cooperation and European Investment Bank credits in most part.