The first section of the T5 Eminönü-Alibeyköy tram line, long-awaited by Istanbulites, entered service between the Cibali quarter and its northern terminus Alibeyköy Bus Station on Friday.
The currently operating part consists of 12 stations on an 8.8 kilometer-long (5.5 miles) track that follows the southern shore of the Golden Horn and right bank of the Alibeyköy Creek in the Fatih and Eyüpsultan districts.
Due to the ongoing 4-day lockdown across Turkey as part of coronavirus measures, its official launch date for passenger services was set as Monday, Jan. 4. The line will be free for the first 10 days of service.
Construction first began on the T5 line in 2016 and was delayed over weak ground issues. It is the first tram line in Turkey that uses a ground power supply rather than an overhead catenary line.
With a one-way capacity of up to 12,000 passengers per hour, the T5 allows transfers to the TF2 Eyüpsultan-Piyer Loti cable car at Eyüp Teleferik and the M7 Mecidiyeköy-Mahmutbey metro line at Alibeyköy station.
The remaining section of the line, which will be served by IETT buses until the work is completed, will provide transfers to the M2 Yenikapı-Hacıosman metro line at Küçükpazar and T1 Kabataş-Bağcılar tram line and various ferries at Eminönü stations.
The tram line connects Eminönü quarter, the main gateway to Istanbul's historic peninsula and its iconic landmarks, to Balat and Fener quarters, which house the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate and many other landmarks of the Greek Orthodox and Jewish communities, and the tomb and the mosque of Abu Ayyub al-Ansari, one of Prophet Muhammad's companions.
Speaking at an inauguration ceremony, joined by the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Chairperson Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and Nation Alliance partner Good Party (IP) leader Meral Akşener, Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoğlu said the line will contribute to the touristic mission of the areas it serves, as well as their residents.