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Turkey's tunnel links east to west

Tuesday, October 29, 2013 - 01:28

Oct. 29 - Turkey opens a long-awaited rail tunnel under the Bosphorous connecting Istanbul's European and Asian sides. As Hayley Platt reports it will effectively connect ''London to Beijing'' bringing economic benefits to many.

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It's 150 years since Ottoman sultans first dreamt up the idea. But a tunnel under Turkey's Bosphorus river is now finally open. It's 13 km long and 60 metres deep. And crucially links Europe with Asia. It'll initially carry subway commuters into Europe's biggest cities. Later high speed and freight trains will also use the route, creating economic opportunities form many. Mayor of Istanbul, Kadir Topbas SOUNDBITE: Kadir Topbas, Mayor of Istanbul , saying (Turkish): "We're adding to the achievements we made in the first decade. We are re-enforcing this network with railways, motorways, new roads, airlines and multiplying the networks that we have." The tunnel cost $2.8 billion to build and is one of several Turkish mega projects. Others include a 50km canal to rival the Suez, an airport and several atomic power stations. Opponents fear the environmental impact of the development in an earthquake-prone country. But Japan - for one - applauds the engineering feat. The majority of the financing came from their Bank for International Corporation. The mega projects will add at least $180 billion to Turkey's already-bulging foreign debt stock. But international concerns about that were dismissed by Turkey's Transport minister as mere envy. He's also hoping a 20% reduction in traffic congestion in Istanbul will ensure support for the projects at home.

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Turkey's tunnel links east to west

Tuesday, October 29, 2013 - 01:28