Istanbul Tunnel


A total of 12 companies placed bids for the research, project and engineering services tender of the Three-Level Grand Istanbul Tunnel project. A total of 23 companies had received the project’s specifications.

The tender for the tunnel project, which aims to relieve Istanbul’s heavy traffic, was held at the General Directorate of Infrastructure Investments yesterday. The tender commission, led by Infrastructure Investments Deputy General Manager Metin Akbaş, was closed to the press to evaluate bids.

As a part of the project, studies will be conducted on land, sea and estuary drilling, the geophysical, geotechnical and geological conditions, routes and preliminary and final feasibility surveys to determine ground data. The engineering projects are aimed to be finalized within a year after the tender process.

The Three-Level Grand Istanbul Tunnel, which will pass beneath the Bosporus, will be comprised of both a road and a railroad in a single tube. The middle layer will have a two-way railroad, while the upper and lower layers will be built in a manner suited to the passage of vehicles and consist of two lanes each.The Three-Level Grand Istanbul Tunnel was one of Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s most important election promises as the government seeks to find a solution to Istanbul’s traffic problems. With the outcome of the Nov. 1 elections, which saw the Justice and Development party win with nearly 50 percent of the vote, the implementation of the mega projects has gained momentum.

The Tunnel will be integrated with TEM Highway, E-5 Motorway and Northern Marmara Highway. The journey between Hasdal Junction on the European Side of Istanbul and Çamlık Junction on the Asian Side will drop to 14 minutes with the construction of the tunnel and 6.5 million passengers a day are expected to use the tunnel.

As one of these mega projects, the Three-Level Grand Istanbul Tunnel will be the first three-level tunnel in the world and will consist of both a metro line and dual motorway. The fast metro line will enable a 40-minute commute from İncirli to Söğütlüçeşme and a 14-minute commute by car from the Hasdal intersection to the Ümraniye Çamlık intersection. The project is included in the 2023 Transportation Projection, an initiative to reduce Istanbul’s traffic woes. This project combined the “fast metro tunnel project,” which will start from Bakırköy-İncirli along the E-5 highway and reach Söğütlüçeşme, similar to the Marmaray and the “highway tunnel” with 2×2 lanes, in order to relieve the traffic on the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge, the second bridge on the Bosporus. Instead of separate tunnels, a single tunnel will be built for both the metro and a dual highway Bosporus crossing.

The tunnel will enable faster and cheaper transportation between the two sides of Istanbul. It will integrate nine different urban train systems with a fast metro track, which is used by approximately 6.5 million passengers on a daily basis. It will also enable easier and faster connections to ring roads; thus connecting all main arterial roads.

The tunnel will integrate local metro lines including the Başakşehir-Bağcılar-Bakırköy Metro, the Yenikapı-Aksaray-Airport Metro, the Kabataş-Bağcılar Tram, the Topkapı-Sultançifliği Light Metro, the Mahmutbey-Mecidiyeköy Metro, the Yenikapı-Hacıosman Metro (Taksim Metro), the Üsküdar-Ümraniye-Çekmeköy-Sancaktepe Metro, the Kadıköy-Kartal Metro, also known as the Marmaray, Istanbul’s first sub-sea tunnel train under the Bosporus, and suburban train lines.

The highways will connect the third airport, currently under construction, and the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge, the third bridge on the Bosporus (also under construction), to the North Marmara Highway, TEM and D100 (E-5) Highway.

Lastly, the project is designed to leave residential areas undisturbed and support the TEM axis so as to avoid an urban eye-sore that would ruin the city’s skyline.

Linking Karakoy to Beyoglu, the first Istanbul metro is 140 years old. Making 181 trips, the tunnel was a permanent scene during the Ottoman era and in the first years of the Turkish Republic and has always remained a point of interest for locals and tourists. Working a return trip, the two wagon tram makes 181 trips a day and carried 15,000 passengers. Between Karakoy and Beyoglu, the quiet journey is completely in 90 seconds. Accepted as the first metro in Istanbul, the 573 long tram has been carrying passengers for over 140 years and was considered indispensable in that time.

French Engineer Eugene Henri Garands tunnel adventure started in Istanbul in 1860 when he came to visit the city. During that era, the district of Galata was known as the banking district and proposed a railway project that would link to the social scene of Pera to Sultan Abdulaziz Han. Completed in January 1875, when opened for service the tunnel was the worlds second oldest underground metro.

Today it offers a nostalgic journey between Karakoy and Beyoglu. Transport, Construction and Operations Manager Ugur Olcay says:

“With the establishment of the General Directorate in 1939, it has served and continues to serve Istanbul transport to this day. At this point in time it has a return trip of 5 minutes from 7am to 10.45pm. The tunnel is of great importance to us. This 140 years old and it is still working – there are very few services in Istanbul and Turkey that are this old. It still continues to carry passengers to this day”.

In celebration of the 140 years of service, the Cer Gallery has opened an exhibition called IETT Cultural Art Station. The exhibition displays old accessories that have belonged to the tunnel. Photographs, uniforms of the train officers, passes and tickets are part of the numerous pieces that keep the history of the tunnel alive. With carrying zero risk to passengers for the past 140 years, the tunnel attracts locals and tourists till today.