The project financing agreement for the largest ever EU-Turkey financial assistance project will be signed today, according to the Delegation of the European Union to Turkey.
"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," a statement by the Delegation of the European Union to Turkey said yesterday.
EU Commissioner for Mobility and Transport Violeta Bulc and Transport and Infrastructure Minister Cahit Turhan will meet in Istanbul to witness the signature of the bilateral project agreement during a ceremony at Dolmabahçe Palace, it added.
They will be meeting on the sidelines of the third Turkey-EU High Level Economic Dialogue to be held today, to sign a financing agreement for the Halkalı-Kapıkule railway line.
The EU will finance the construction of a major railway line connecting the metropolitan area of Istanbul to the Turkish-Bulgarian border through an unprecedented grant of 275 million euros. This is part of the EU's investment portfolio in Turkey financed through the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) funds for the period 2014-2020.
On the occasion of the signing ceremony, EU Commissioner for Transport Bulc said: "With the signing of this flagship railway project, the 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 EU standards.
It is estimated that once built, the railway will create major benefits for both consumers and producers of 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, according to the EU Delegation to Turkey.
It said 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 within the framework of Chapter 21 of the Turkey-EU Accession negotiations.
"In this context, Turkey pledged to start construction of further strategic railway connections to the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge over the Bosphorus by 2029 at the latest. This will provide the missing rail connections and facilitate development of a larger trade corridor between the EU and Turkey and from Turkey onto the Middle East, the Caucasus and Central Asia" read the statement.
Transport is a key sector of cooperation for the EU and Turkey, as highlighted in the joint statement following the Turkey-EU High Level Political Dialogue in November 2018 and in the High Level Transport Dialogue in January of this year.