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The European Investment Bank (EIB) is providing a further EUR 200 million loan to the Republic of Turkey for the Marmaray project, the first rail connection between the European and Asian networks across the Bosphorus Strait. 

The finance agreement was signed today in Ankara in a public ceremony by Mr İbrahim Çanakcı, Undersecretary of the Treasury, on behalf of the Republic of Turkey, and the EIB Vice-President responsible for Turkey, Mr Pim van Ballekom, on an official visit to Turkey.

On this occasion, EIB Vice-President Pim van Ballekom stated: “I am pleased to sign this loan agreement today, bringing further EIB support for this flagship project linking Europe with Asia. This facility further consolidates the position of the EIB as Turkey’s key financial partner for the financing of large priority projects and the country’s efforts to re-balance its transport mode mix in favour of the railways. As the EU bank, we have been a solid partner of Turkey for some fifty years. In 2013 we provided a total of EUR 2.3 billion in Turkey. Our presence here today underlines our commitment to strengthening growth and innovation in Turkey. I am convinced we will continue providing substantial funds to Turkey, continuing our support in our three key spheres of activity: infrastructure, SMEs and corporate lending”.

The Marmaray tunnel itself was inaugurated on the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the Republic of Turkey in October last year. Significant works are ongoing to upgrade the surface lines feeding into the already completed tunnel sections. These surface sections on either side of the Bosphorus consist of a 63 km rail line and 37 stations in total. The project was first financed by the EIB in 2004. With the additional EUR 200 million, the EIB’s total support for Marmaray now amounts to EUR 1.25 billion.

The project consists of connecting the two railway lines on Pan-European Transport Corridor IV, currently terminating on either side of the Bosphorus, through a tunnel. It also joins with the high speed railway between the country’s two largest cities, also financed by the EIB.  In this way it enables train connections between the two continents. Its merits are many and diverse, including significant time gains for the inhabitants of the metropolitan Istanbul area, as well as for travellers, supporting economic development and improving the quality of life while generating significant environmental benefits.

The Marmaray tunnel is a flagship project of crucial importance for the integration of Turkey with the European Union and the development of the Union's transport network.  It is not just one of the largest and most important infrastructure projects to be undertaken so far in Turkey, it is also providing a stimulus to the Turkish and European economies.  It is a good example of the catalytic role the EIB can play in helping to co-finance major trans-European network (TENs) infrastructure projects.

The project constitutes a key element of the government’s plans to increase the share of rail transport by improving the productivity and effectiveness of railway operations. The EIB has been strongly supporting this effort, and hence the total value of EIB support for the Turkish rail system in the last decade amounts to some EUR 2.6 billion.