Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Turkey’s ‘iron Silk Route’ stirs romantic imagination

The Dh17 billion project will help achieve the long-held dream of rail travel from London to Beijing.

The completion of any big infrastructure project is worth celebrating – especially if it has been 153 years in the making. As The National reported yesterday, the Ottoman ruler Sultan Abdulmecid first proposed building a tunnel under the Bosphorus in 1860. Yesterday, Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan opened the 13.6 kilometre project that just does that.

The Dh17 billion Marmaray tunnel has been hailed as the pivotal link in an “iron Silk Route” that will help achieve the long-held dream of contiguous rail travel from London to Beijing.

In the short term, the tunnel will ease the commute between the Asian and European sides of Istanbul. By 2016, the Marmaray railway will extend 77km along the shore of the Sea of Marmara from Gebeze to Halkali, and by 2030 it will be linked in to an 880km-long metro network.

In an age of inexpensive air travel and time-poor tourists, it’s debatable whether there will be a commercial demand for passenger rail services between Britain and China, but the prospect is certainly a romantic one.

The original Orient Express terminated in western Istanbul, and it may be that the temptation of continuing to the Far East may be too great for train buffs, and Agatha Christie fans, to resist.

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 An tenant in the Al Barsha area of Dubai has been sent a non-renewable contract by the landlord. Randi Sokoloff / The National

Dubai landlord refuses to pay back Rera fees after losing rent case

Keren Bobker helps a tenant who wants to know how to reclaim his RERA case fees and who has also been sent a contract with a “one-year nonrenewable” note.

 A Brabus Mercedes 6x6 Sports Utility Vehicle is readied for display during Auto China 2014 in Beijing, on April 20. Adrian Bradshaw / EPA

In pictures: Auto China 2014 exhibition

Leading automakers have gathered in Beijing for the kickoff of China’s biggest car show, but lacklustre growth and environmental restrictions in the world’s largest car market have thrown uncertainty into the mix. More than 1,100 vehicles are being showcased.

 A customer looks at a large mock-up of videogame console Game Boy.  Yoshikazu Tsuno / AFP Photo

Nintendo’s Game Boy at 25: hand-held legacy lives on

Nintendo’s trailblazing Game Boy marks its 25th anniversary Monday with the portable device’s legacy living on in cutting-edge smartphone games and among legions of nostalgic fans.

 Ashish Nehra of Chennai Super Kings bowls to Kings XI Punjab at Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi. Ravindranath K / The National

Hard-hitting Chennai not deterred by opening loss in IPL

But some questions remain about the team's attack ahead of Monday's match against Delhi Daredevils in Abu Dhabi, writes Osman Samiuddin.

 A projectionist takes a break in the projection room at Ariana Cinema in Kabul, Afghanistan. Going to the movies, once banned under the Taliban, has become a popular form of entertainment in Kabul, but women and children rarely take part. All photos by Photo by Jonathan Saruk / Reportage by Getty Images

Afghan cinema: Forbidden Reel

The lights go down and the projector whirls into action as Sher Mohammed, 35, begins his routine, bouncing back and forth between two projectors, winding reels, and adjusting the carbon arc lamps inside the projectors.

 Business class seats inside the Emirates Airbus A380. Chip East / Reuters

In it for the long haul: flying 16 hours with Emirates to LA

Our executive travel reviewer tries out the business class offering on Emirates' longest A380 route - and finds time passing quickly.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National