The total project investment cost is estimated around 1 billion euros. The EU will provide 275 million euro of grants making it the single largest EU investment project carried out in Turkey. EU Commissioner for Mobility and Transport Mrs Violeta Bulc and Turkish Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Mr Mehmet Cahit Turhan will meet in Istanbul to witness the signature of the bilateral project agreement during a ceremony at the Dolmabahçe Palace.
The EU will finance the construction of a major railway line connecting the metropolitan area of İstanbul to the Turkish-Bulgarian border through an unprecedented grant of 275 million euros. This is part of EU's investment portfolio in Turkey financed through the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) funds for the period 2014-2020. EU Commissioner for Mobility and Transport Violeta Bulc and Turkish Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Mehmet Cahit Turhan will meet in Istanbul on 28 February, at the margins of the EU-Turkey High Level Economic Dialogue, to sign the project financing agreement of the Halkalı – Kapıkule railway line. On the occasion of the signing ceremony in Dolmabahçe Palace, EU Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said: "With the signing of this flagship railway project, EU and Turkey show once more that they can work hand in hand for the benefit of their peoples, and for a joint and sustainable future. Turkey is our bridge between East and West. We are committed to achieve the full potential in our cooperation".
The new link will provide a safe, high-speed and clean connection for freight and passengers between the Halkalı station of Istanbul and the Bulgarian border crossing point at Kapıkule / Svelingrad station. The double-track electrified line will have 200 km/h design speed enjoying the latest state of the art signaling systems that are compatible with the EU standards (ERTMS ETCS Level 1).
It is estimated that once built, the railway will create major benefits for both consumers and producers up to 1,6 billion euros. Businesses will enjoy more economical and reliable transport services, decreasing the barriers in a corridor of high importance for international import and export activities. Citizens will experience more accessible and safer mobility, particularly in and around the Istanbul urban area, while carbon emissions will decrease and the use of different modes of transport will be promoted.
This investment offers a natural extension of the core Trans-European Transport Networks, and as such it has been identified as a project of European Interest in the framework of Chapter 21 of the EU-Turkey Accession negotiations.
In this context, Turkey pledged to start the construction of the further strategic railway connections to the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge over the Bosphorus latest by 2029. These rail connections will provide the missing rail connections and facilitate development of larger trade corridor between the EU and Turkey and from Turkey onto the Middle East, Caucasus and Central Asia. Transport is a key sector of cooperation for the EU and Turkey, as highlighted in the Joint Statement following the EU-Turkey High Level Political Dialogue in November 2018 and in the High Level Transport Dialogue in January 2019. On 28 February 2019, European and Turkish leaders will gather in Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul, to hold the EU-Turkey High Level Economic Dialogue.
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