As a tender has been finalized for the construction of the Çerkezköy-Kapıkule section of the Halkalı-Kapıkule railway project to be financed by EU funds, a contract on the section is set to be signed tomorrow in the capital Ankara with the participation of Transport and Infrastructure Minister Cahit Turhan and the head of the delegation of the European Union to Turkey, Ambassador Christian Berger.
The project financing agreement for the Halkalı-Kapıkule high-speed train line project, the largest-ever EU-Turkey financial assistance project, was signed in February on the sidelines of the third Turkey-EU High Level Economic Dialogue.
The total project investment cost is estimated at around 1 billion euros ($1.13 billion). The EU will provide 275 million euros in grants, making it the single-largest EU investment project carried out in Turkey.
The EU will help finance the construction of a major railway line connecting the metropolitan area of Istanbul to the Turkish-Bulgarian border through the unprecedented grants as part of the EU's investment portfolio in Turkey financed through the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) funds for the period 2014-2020.
The IPA funds allocated to the project account for about 8 percent of the overall funds allocated to Turkey in the IPA II period and about 74 percent of the funds dedicated to the transport industry.
The Halkalı-Kapıkule railway line will connect the EU, Turkey and Asia in accordance with Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) corridors. The project is also important for its budget size and technical specifications.
The project consists of three sections: Halkalı-Ispartakule, Ispartakule-Çerkezköy and Çerkezköy-Kapıkule. The construction of the 155-kilometer Çerkezköy-Kapıkule section will be jointly financed by the EU and Turkey. The construction of other 76-kilometer section will be simultaneously carried out by the Turkish State Railway (TCDD) through the national budget.
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 a 200-kilometer-per-hour design speed, enjoying the latest state-of-the-art signaling systems 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 accessibility and safer mobility, particularly in and around Istanbul's urban areas, while carbon emissions will decrease and the use of different modes of transport will be promoted, according to the EU delegation to Turkey.