The new Silk Road: A trans-continental tunnel in Turkey

The Kadikoy ferry leaves Besiktas harbour on October 28, 2013 in Istanbul. Turkey will on October 29, 2013 unveil the world's first sea tunnel connecting two continents, fulfilling a sultan's dream 150 years ago, but also fuelling recent anti-government sentiment for such mega projects.

Connecting the continents of Asia and Europe across the Bosporus via rail has been a dream of Turkish leaders for a hundred and fifty years. Today, it becomes real.  An underground rail line is opening that will connect the two sides of Istanbul. 

Hopefully, it will help solve one of Istanbul’s biggest problems: traffic.

Yasemin Turkkan can see across the Bosporus from her mom’s house.  She says Istanbul’s biggest problem is traffic.

“A destination that would normally take twenty minutes without traffic sometimes take three hours,  It creates huge stress for people,” she says.

It can even affect your chances of getting hired.

“A lot of companies are located on the European side, and a lot of people are on the other side, the Anatolian side,” Turkkan, who has experience working for human resources companies. “For companies in terms of hiring and human resources it’s a huge issue.” Many of her clients were very specific: they want people who live on the same side of the strait because crossing is so arduous and time consuming. Few things can sap energy and motivation than an awful commute. 

The new rail line and subway system it could reduce crossing time to just fifteen minutes from an hour and 40 minutes. Usage of public transportation is expected to go up to 28 percent from 3 percent. 

Birol Yesilada directs the center for Turkish studies at Portland State University, he says it’s a big deal for Turkey’s economic heartland. “All the way east a good 100 miles and 100 miles west, there are indsutrial sites scattered all over the place.”

Getting people to and from those sites efficiently is the economic equivalent of adding oil to an engine.

About the author

Sabri Ben-Achour is a reporter for Marketplace, based in the New York City bureau. He covers Wall Street, finance, and anything New York and money related.

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