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EIB Lends EUR200 Million To Turkey For Europe-Asia Rail Link Project

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

In a public ceremony held in Turkish capital Ankara on Thursday, Turkey's Undersecretary of the Treasury, Ibrahim Çanakci, and EIB Vice-President responsible for Turkey, Pim van Ballekom, signed the finance agreement.

Ballekom said he is pleased to sign this loan agreement, 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," he added.

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 kilometer 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 include significant time gains for the inhabitants of the metropolitan Istanbul area, as well as for travelers, supporting economic development and improving the quality of life while generating significant environmental benefits, the European Commission said in a press release.

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 only 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 Turkish government's plans to increase the share of rail transport by improving the productivity and effectiveness of railway operations.

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