Marmaray project, one of the world's most ambitious urban rail commuter projects is set to connect Europe with Asia.

The European Investment Bank is extending a loan of EUR 400 million to the Republic of Turkey for the financing of rolling stock for the Marmaray urban rail commuter project in Istanbul. The rolling stock of 440 cars, to be configured as 10 and 5-car commuter trains, will be deployed on the city's rail system. The loan follows the Bank's project - signed in September 2004 and in December of last year - to part-finance the upgrade the infrastructure of the rail system.

The 76 km railway line will connect Halkali on the European side of the city with suburban Gebze on the Asian side, sharply reducing travel time between the two and helping relieve the city of the growing traffic congestion. The rail system will carry 75.000 passengers an hour and link with the municipal light-rapid rail system and metro. Some 63 km of the system will be above ground, while 14 km will be underground including a 1.4 km tunnel under the Bosphorus. Thirty-seven existing stations will be upgraded while three underground stations will be constructed. The project, scheduled for completion in April 2009 is supported with a EUR 650 million loan from the EIB. The current loan of EUR 400 million is in addition to the already signed EUR 650 million and will bring total EIB support to the overall Bosphorus Tunnel scheme to EUR .05 billion, the largest amount ever provided by the EIB to a project in Turkey.

To qualify for financial support from the EIB, urban transport projects need to be proven to be sustainable. This is typically the case with sound investments in public transport infrastructure as such projects contribute to improving the quality of the urban environment. By promoting a shift from private to public transport and reducing congestion, they not only enhance air quality and cut noise nuisance, but also help to tackle climate change by improving energy efficiency and reducing CO2 emissions.

The Bank's cumulative financing in Turkey stands at over EUR 4 billion and relates to investments in a wide range of economic sectors. Municipal financing for investments in environment and urban transport represent some 31 % of which 11% was directed to earthquake damage reconstruction.