Not to be confused with Marmara (disambiguation).
Type Commuter rail
Status Partially operational
Locale Istanbul, Turkey
Termini Kazlıçeşme
Halkalı (planned)
Ayrılık Çeşmesi
Gebze (planned)
Stations 5
41 (planned)
Daily ridership 148,034 (2014)
Opened October 29, 2013 (first phase)
Owner TCDD
Operator(s) TCDD
Rolling stock E32000 EMUs
Line length 13.6 km
76.6 kmFuture
Number of tracks

2 single track tunnels

3 track on surface with additional passing loops
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Electrification 25 kV, 50 Hz AC Overhead line
Operating speed 40 km/h (25 mph) (average)
Route map
Distance Station
0 km Halkalı
1 km (0.6 mi) Mustafakemal
3 km (1.9 mi) Küçükçekmece
6 km (3.7 mi) Florya
9 km (5.6 mi) Yeşilköy
11 km (6.8 mi) Yeşilyurt
13 km (8.1 mi) Ataköy
14 km (8.7 mi) Bakırköy
15 km (9.3 mi) Yenimahalle
17 km (10.6 mi) Zeytinburnu
19 km (11.8 mi) Kazlıçeşme
İstanbul-Halkalı Line
22 km (13.7 mi) Yenikapı
25 km (15.5 mi) Sirkeci
28 km (17.4 mi) Üsküdar
33 km (21 mi) Ayrılık Çeşmesi
Haydarpaşa-Gebze Line
33 km (20.5 mi) Söğütlüçeşme
35 km (21.7 mi) Feneryolu
36 km (22.4 mi) Göztepe
38 km (23.6 mi) Erenköy
39 km (24.2 mi) Suadiye
41 km (25.5 mi) Bostancı
42 km (26.1 mi) Küçükyalı
43 km (26.7 mi) İdealtepe
45 km (28.0 mi) Süreyya Plajı
46 km (28.6 mi) Maltepe
48 km (29.8 mi) Cevizli
50 km (31.1 mi) Atalar
51 km (31.7 mi) Başak
52 km (32.3 mi) Kartal
54 km (33.6 mi) Yunus
56 km (34.8 mi) Pendik
58 km (36.0 mi) Kaynarca
60 km (37.3 mi) Tersane
61 km (37.9 mi) Güzelyalı
62 km (38.5 mi) Aydıntepe
63 km (39.1 mi) İçmeler
66 km (41.0 mi) Tuzla
70 km (43.5 mi) Çayırova
71 km (44.1 mi) Fatih
72 km (44.7 mi) Osmangazi
75 km (47 mi) Gebze

Marmaray (pronounced [ˈmaɾmaˌɾaj]) is a partially operational rail transportation project in the Turkish city of Istanbul. It comprises a rail tunnel under the Bosphorus strait, and the modernization of existing suburban railway lines along the Sea of Marmara from Halkalı on the European side to Gebze on the Asian side. The procurement of new rolling stock for suburban passenger traffic is also part of the project.[1] Construction started in 2004, with an initial target opening date of April 2009.[1] After multiple delays caused by the discovery of historical and archaeological finds, the first phase of the project opened on October 29, 2013.[2][3] It is the first standard gauge rail connection between Europe and Asia.[4] The second phase of the project was scheduled to open in 2015, but the work has been stopped and it is unknown when it will be finished.[5][6]

The name Marmaray comes from combining the name of the Sea of Marmara, which lies just south of the project site, with ray, the Turkish word for rail. The Turkish press has compared it to the Silk Road.[7][8]


The project includes a 13.6-kilometre (8.5 mi) crossing of the Bosphorus and the upgrade of 63 kilometres (39 mi) of suburban rail lines to create a 76.6-kilometre (47.6 mi) high-capacity passenger line between Gebze and Halkalı, along with the provision of 440 electric multiple unit cars.

First phase

The construction contract for the project was awarded to a Japanese-Turkish consortium led by Taisei Corporation in July 2004.[2] The consortium included Gama Endustri Tesisleri Imalat ve Montaj, Nurol Construction.[9]

The Bosphorus (Istanbul Strait) is crossed by a 1.4-kilometre-long (0.87 mi) earthquake-proofed immersed tube, assembled from 11 sections; eight are 135 metres (443 ft), two are 98.5 metres (323 ft), and one element is 110 metres (360 ft) long.[10] The elements weigh up to 18,000 tons.[11] The sections have been placed down to 60 metres (197 ft) below sea level: 55 metres (180 ft) of water and 4.6 metres (15 ft) of earth.[11] This underwater tube is accessed by bored tunnels from Kazlıçeşme on the European side and Ayrılıkçeşmesi on the Asian side of Istanbul. It represents the world's deepest undersea immersed tube tunnel. Fire-resistant concrete developed in Norway was crucial for the safety of the project.[12]

Construction of the Marmaray project started in May 2004. The Marmaray tunnel was completed on September 23, 2008,[13] with a formal ceremony to mark completion of the tunnel on October 13.[14]

Path of the rail tunnel project (dotted line) within the Marmaray railway, across the Bosphorus strait.

New underground stations have been built at Yenikapı, Sirkeci, and Üsküdar.[15] The stations at Yenikapı and Ayrılık Çeşmesi connect with the Istanbul Metro.[16] Commuter trains now go from Ayrılık Çeşmesi station (Asian side) to Kazlıçeşme station (European side), stopping at three underground stations along the way.[17]

Second phase

The second stage is the renewal of current railways on the ground, between Gebze and Ayrılık Çeşmesi on the Asian side, and between Kazlıçeşme and Halkalı on the European side. It was scheduled to be completed at the same time as the first phase (tunnels and underground parts), but little progress has been made on this and it is still incomplete. A third line will be added which will provide the EMU cars and other rail cars the ability to move separately.[6] Thirty-seven other above-ground stations along the line will be rebuilt or refurbished.[15][18] The capacity of the line is planned to be 75,000 passengers per hour in each direction (PPHPD).[1] Signalling will also be modernized to allow trains to be as close as two minutes apart.[19] The predicted travel time from Gebze to Halkalı is 104 minutes.

Completion of the entire project had been repeatedly delayed. As of December 2009, it was expected to occur in October 2013 but as of May 2015 the old suburban lines had been removed but no progress had been made on replacing them.[20] After completion, the use of rail transportation in Istanbul is predicted to rise from 3.6% to 27.7%.[18] It is also planned that during off-peak hours, YHT, Mainline and Regional trains will also pass through the tunnel in order to reach the European side of the city.


In February 2010, Railway Gazette International reported that the tunnel's administrators were hiring consultants to analyse options for carrying freight traffic.[21]

Although not officially announced by TCDD, the Prime Minister and officers stated several times that Marmaray will help to bring back the use of the term "Silk Road" with a new name of "Iron Silk Road" by allowing freight trains to move between Europe and China. Freight trains free of dangerous goods will be able to move through the tunnel during the time metro cars are not working (between 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m.).[22]


The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the European Investment Bank (EBI) have provided major financing for the project. By April 2006, JICA had lent 111 billion yen and EIB 1.05 billion euro. The total cost of the project is expected to be approximately 2.5 billion US dollars. In late 2009, costs were expected to increase by approximately 500 million US dollars due to the archaeological delays.[23]

Rolling stock

Marmaray train set at Ayrılık Çeşmesi.
Main article: TCDD E32000

Hyundai Rotem announced on November 11, 2008 that it had signed a €580 million contract to supply the rolling stock for the Marmaray cross-Bosphorus tunnel project in Istanbul. The Korean firm had competition from shortlisted bidders Alstom, CAF, and a consortium of Bombardier, Siemens, and Nurol for the 440-vehicle contract which was placed by the Ministry of Transport's General Directorate of Railways, Harbours, and Airports.[24]

The 22-metre-long (72 ft) stainless steel cars will be formed into ten-car and five-car EMUs. Some production will be carried out locally by Eurotem, Hyundai Rotem's joint venture with Turkish rolling stock manufacturer TÜVASAŞ. The cars will arrive in three batches: the first 160 cars by 2011 and the last by June 2014.


The project was delayed four years, largely due to the discovery of a Byzantine-era and other 8,000-year-old archaeological finds on the proposed site of the European tunnel terminal in 2005.[25] The excavations produced evidence of the city's largest harbour, the 4th-century Harbour of Eleutherios (later known as the Harbour of Theodosius).[11] There, archaeologists uncovered traces of the city wall of Constantine the Great, and the remains of several ships, including what appears to be the only ancient or early medieval galley ever discovered, preventing the project from proceeding at full speed.[26] In addition, the excavation has uncovered the oldest evidence of settlement in Istanbul, with artifacts, including amphorae, pottery fragments, shells, pieces of bone, horse skulls, and nine human skulls found in a bag, dating back to 6,000 BCE.[11] Glass artefacts and fragments dating from the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman periods have been found during excavations at Sirkeci.[27]

The suburban rail upgrade section of the project, known originally as CR1, was first awarded to the AMD Rail Consortium, comprising Marubeni of Japan, Dogus Insaat of Turkey and Alstom of France.[28] However, it faltered and the work was re-tendered as contract CR3 in early 2011. The replacement contract worth €932.8 million was awarded to a joint venture of OHL and Invensys Rail.[28] This section was planned to be completed by June 2015. However, due to "slow down" in construction works, there have been further delays in this section of the project and nobody knows when it will open.[5][29]

Tunnel construction is only about 18 kilometres (11 mi) from the active North Anatolian Fault, worrying engineers and seismologists. "Since AD 342, it has seen large earthquakes that each claimed more than 10,000 lives."[11] Scientific calculations estimated a probability of 77 percent that, at some time in the next 30 years, the area will suffer an earthquake of strength 7.0 or more on the Richter magnitude scale. The waterlogged, silty soil on which the tunnel is constructed has been known to liquefy during an earthquake; to solve this problem, engineers injected industrial grout down to 24 metres (79 ft) below the seabed to keep it stable.[11] The walls of the tunnel are made of waterproof concrete coated with a steel shell, each independently watertight. The tunnel is made to flex and bend, similar to the way tall buildings are constructed to react if an earthquake hits. Floodgates at the joints of the tunnel are able to close and isolate water in the event of the walls' failure.[11]

Steen Lykke, project manager for Avrasyaconsult, the international consortium that is overseeing the construction, sums it up, saying, "I can't think of any challenge this project lacks".[11]


On August 4, 2013, the Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, was the driver for the first test ride on Marmaray. The ride started from Ayrılık Çeşmesi station (older name İbrahimağa station)[30] at the Asian side and ended at a distance of about 10 km (6.2 mi) on the European side crossing Bosphorus underwater, and then back.[31]

On October 29, 2013, the first stage of the Marmaray project, covering the underground connection between Europe and Asia, was inaugurated. The opening coincided with the Turkish Republic's 90th anniversary Republic Day.[2] The maiden journey took place following the grand opening ceremony attended by President Abdullah Gül and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, as well as the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, the Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta, the Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, and a number of foreign civil servants.[2]

After the opening ceremony, Yeni Şafak published a letter addressed to the Japanese workers working on the Marmaray, in which the Turkish officers responsible for the construction threatened to commit suicide if the project did not finish before the October 2013 deadline. The letter was signed in blood by Metin Tahan, the Turkish Transportation Ministry Infrastructure Investment Director General.[32]

In the early days after opening, trains had to stop several times, which caused much discussion in Turkey. These stoppages were explained as being caused by curious passengers using the emergency brakes.[33]

Marmaray in numbers

Some figures of the project are as follows:[31]

Note: Station of Mustafakemal is actually one of Kanarya, which is quarter of Küçükçekmece district.


4.5 million passengers travelled through in the first 15 days, which were free of charge. There were 10 million passengers in the beginning of 2014, 13.5 million in first four months and 21.4 million in first six months. On average, there are 120,000 passengers per day.[34]

The project has a target of 1.5 million passengers per day after completion of the whole project.

See also


  1. 1 2 3 Rails under the Bosporus, Railway Gazette International February 23, 2009
  2. 1 2 3 4 "Marmaray tunnel opens to link Europe with Asia". Railway Gazette International. October 29, 2013.
  3. "TCDD launches Eskisehir – Konya high speed service". Railway Gazette International. March 28, 2013. Retrieved October 28, 2013.
  4. Keith Fender, "Standard gauge rail connection from Asia to Europe opens in Turkey", Trains (October 29, 2013).
  5. 1 2 Uysal, Onur. "Is Marmaray Project Behind the Schedule?", Rail Turkey, November 6, 2014
  6. 1 2 Uysal, Onur. "Completely False Facts About Marmaray", Rail Turkey, May 20, 2013
  7. "Istanbul, apre il tunnel sotto il Bosforo: la "Via della Seta 2.0" (Silk Road 2.0)" (in Italian). la Repubblica. October 29, 2013. Retrieved October 30, 2013.
  8. "Marmaray: The Modern Day Silk Road". Daily Sabah. October 29, 2013. Retrieved October 26, 2014.
  9. "Marmaray Railway Engineering Project – Railway Technology". Retrieved January 12, 2015.
  10. "Marmaray Projekt: Ein Tunnel unter dem Bosporus für Istanbul" (in German). May 2011. Retrieved October 28, 2013.
  11. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Smith, Julian. "The Big Dig" Wired Sept. 2007: pages 154–61.
  12. "Norwegian technology in the world's deepest immersed tunnel" (in Norwegian) Teknisk Ukeblad, October 12, 2013. Accessed: October 13, 2013. Technical report: Claus K. Larsen. "Testing of fireproofing for concrete" Norwegian Public Roads Administration, 2007.
  13. Final tubes sunk on Bosphorus Tunnel, International Railway Journal, November 2008.
  14. Marmaray tunnel completed, Railway Gazette International October 20, 2008
  15. 1 2 Facts and figures, web page at the Marmaray web site. Accessed on-line September 24, 2007.
  16. Istanbul Metro, web page at the Marmaray web site. Accessed on-line September 24, 2007.
  17. "Turkey ready to take first ride on landmark undersea train line". Today's Zaman. October 28, 2013.
  18. 1 2 Travel time and alignment, web page at the Marmaray web site. Accessed on line, September 24, 2007.
  19. Istanbul, web page at Accessed on line September 24, 2007.
  20. Marmaray completion delayed to 2013, cost increases by $500 mln, Today's Zaman December 19, 2009
  21. Contracts February 2010, Railway Gazette International February 9, 2010
  22. Uysal, Onur. "Is Marmaray Key for Europe-Asia Rail Connection?", Rail Turkey, November 12, 2013
  23. Marmaray completion delayed to 2013, cost increases by $500 mln, Today's Zaman December 19, 2009
  24. Marmaray train contract signed, Railway Gazette International November 14, 2008
  25. Tunnel links continents, uncovers ancient history CNN
  26. Rose, Mark; Aydingün, Sengül. "Under Istanbul". Archaeological Institute of America. Retrieved October 27, 2008.; Nautical archaeology takes a leap forward, The Times, December 31, 2007
  27. Üzlifat Canav-Özgümüş. "Recent glass finds in Istanbul" Doğuş University, September 2012. Accessed: October 13, 2013.
  28. 1 2 "Marmaray railway upgrading contract awarded". Railway Gazette International. Nov 3, 2011.
  29. Acar, Cihan, "Istanbul Railway ‘project of the century’ in epic delays", RZD-Partner, February 18, 2015
  30. "Marmaray'ın güzergahı değişebilir". Hürriyet (in Turkish). June 30, 2009. Retrieved August 6, 2013.
  31. 1 2 "Başbakan Erdoğan Marmaray'da test sürüşü yaptı". Hürriyet (in Turkish). August 4, 2013. Retrieved August 6, 2013.
  32. "Report: Officials threatened suicide to meet Marmaray deadline". TodaysZaman. October 31, 2013. Retrieved January 12, 2015.
  33. Uysal, Onur. "Marmaray Started With Discussions", Rail Turkey, November 6, 2013
  34. Uysal, Onur. "Ridership in Marmaray", Rail Turkey, May 27, 2014
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