Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Cahit Turhan announced plans on building a new high speed railway line from Halkalı, Istanbul all the way to Kapıkule, Edirne -Turkey's border crossing with Bulgaria.
The minister said Wednesday that the existing line will be used for freight transport and "the construction of the new line would be funded by the European Union."
The announcement comes a week after a train accident in northwestern Tekirdağ province killed 24 people and wounded 124 others. Turhan said that investigations into the accident that took place on July 8 were still underway. The six-carriage passenger train with 362 people onboard derailed as it was traveling from Uzunköprü, Edirne to Halkalı.
Regarding the new line the transport minister said, "The bidding process for the new train line will be held in September. The old line will be used for freight transport."
The Halkalı-Kapıkule High-Speed Train Project will connect Turkey's high-speed train network with Europe's.
The tender bid for the 230-kilometer line at a cost of around TL 3.2 billion ($661.74 million) will be floated at the end of this year. The project is expected to be completed in 2022.
The Halkalı-Kapıkule railroad project will connect the Iron Silk Road route's Turkish part with Europe.
"The EU has continued to provide aid with a new package after 2014. During 2014-2020 period, 372 million euros were allocated to our ministry. During the period, the Halkalı-Kapıkule line was chosen as the priority project to use this fund. It was proposed to rebuild it as a 200 kph high-speed railway line," Turhan continued.
He added that the EU deemed it appropriate to carry out this project in two stages, adding the Çerkezköy section would be built by the Turkish State Railways (TCDD), while the Çerkezköy-Kapıkule section would be covered by EU funds.
He said that the tender processes for the Çerkezköy-Kapıkule section has begun and the consultancy proposals have already been received. Turhan said that the construction tender was in the announcement phase, while the proposals would be collected in September.
"The contract is expected to be signed by the end of the year and construction will start in early 2019," he concluded.