Hailed alongside Ataturk as heroes to their supporters, today’s Turkish leaders were central to celebrations at the opening of the world’s first trans-continental tunnel.
But for commuters in Istanbul, one of the world’s most congested city, what really matters is the difference the rail tunnel will make to their daily lives.
“I have lived here for the past 27 years,” said one man at the festivities, which also marked the 90th anniversary of the founding of the modern Turkish Republic. “We have suffered from all the traffic jams, especially crossing the Bosphorus. Because of this, I am very happy now to see this tunnel opening. I also support the project for a third bridge. Roads are not enough.”
“I expect traffic to be eased,” another man added. “I am not going to cross to the other side with my car anymore.”
“It is a very good service,” a third man said. “It is being called the project of the century because it was the dream of our ancestors. It is good to have dreams but better when they come true.”
Prior to the tunnel, passengers had no choice but to cross one of two road bridges or hop on a ferry. Now the journey should be quicker and less frustrating.
Our correspondent in Istanbul, Bora Bayraktar, points to the anticipated benefits on a broader basis.
“Marmaray, which connects the two sides of Istanbul, won’t just relieve the traffic in the city,” he said. “It will also bring European and Asian railways together.”