The final phase of the high-speed railway project connecting Turkey to Bulgaria has begun with work on the Halkali to Ispartakule tunnel. 

The Halkali Kapikule Railway Project began in 2019 and was described by the Turkish Government as the first part of the Asia-Europe Railway Corridor, with the 229km-long project marking the main rail link between Turkey and Western Europe by connecting to the Trans-European Transport Network. 

Turkey’s Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Abdulkadir Uraloğlu attended the ground-breaking ceremony for the 9km Halkali-Ispartakule line, celebrating the railway’s role in connecting the country across Asia, Europe and Africa. 

Uraloğlu said, translated from Turkish: “This railway line will further strengthen the relations between Turkey and the European Union and will reinforce our friendship.” 

“This project constitutes one of the most important links that form the European connection with the part of the Silk Railway route passing through our country.”

Uraloğlu also said that the whole project would reduce the time it takes to get from Halkali in Istanbul to Kapikule, on the border of Turkey and Bulgaria, by two and a half hours; from four hours to one and a half. It will also increase the current line capacity four times over. 

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By GlobalData

The final section of the line will be built by a group of local construction companies, including Gülermak Ağır Sanayı, Yapı & Yapı Inşaat and Taşyapı Inşaat, at a cost of Tl6bn ($223m). 

The vast majority of the high-speed rail project will involve the boring of a 6.2km tunnel up to a depth of 55m through the Küçükçekmece Lake and the proposed Istanbul canal. 

Work on the Halkali Kapikule project is just one of the investments into high-speed rail in Turkey, with another line also being built in the south of the country, connecting Mersin to Gaziantep, which recently benefited from $867m of funding from the UK Government through the UK Export Finance credit agency.