The Great Istanbul Tunnel, an ambitious 6.5km underwater tunnel spanning the Bosphorus river and linking Europe and Asia, is set to become a vital transportation artery. It will accommodate a staggering 1.3 million passengers each day upon its anticipated completion in 2028.
Transport and infrastructure minister Adil Karaismailoğlu recently provided an update on the project. He affirmed the scheduled opening of this combined highway and railway tunnel. The venture, touted as the world’s longest underwater tunnel, is expected to revolutionize travel in Istanbul.
The Great Istanbul Tunnel will consist of three levels, with two dedicated to road traffic and one exclusively for a rail system. With a diameter of 19m and a depth of 110m beneath sea level, the tunnel will seamlessly integrate the highways connecting Istanbul’s three airports: Istanbul Atatürk Airport, Sabiha Gökçen Airport, Istanbul Airport, as well as the nine rail lines of the Istanbul Metro.
The 6.5km Multi-Use Great Istanbul Tunnel to Serve Millions of Passengers Daily by 2028
The railway component of the Great Istanbul Tunnel will encompass 13 stations. It will thus cater to an impressive capacity of 70,000 passengers per hour in a single direction. Furthermore, it will facilitate connections with 11 other railway lines. It will also optimize the efficiency of the Metrobus line, a vital element of Istanbul’s transportation network.
Minister Karaismailoğlu emphasized that the project aims to reduce rail travel times across the Bosphorus to just over 40 minutes. He underscored the necessity of the tunnel by highlighting projections from Istanbul’s transportation plan. He also indicated that the daily crossings between the European and Asian sides of the city will exceed 3 million in the future. This will surpass the current figure of 2 million.
In addition to connecting the two sides of the Bosphorus, the minister revealed plans for a high-capacity rail system. It will stretch from the west to the east of Istanbul.
The excavation of the Great Istanbul Tunnel is being conducted using one of the world’s largest tunnel boring machines (TBM). This is an enormous drill measuring 83m in length and 20m in width.
Once completed, the Great Istanbul Tunnel will become the third tunnel crossing the Bosphorus, following the Marmaray Tunnel, a 3.5km railway tunnel, and the Eurasia Tunnel, a 5.4km road tunnel. This remarkable project signifies Turkey’s commitment to enhancing transportation infrastructure and fostering seamless connectivity between continents.