Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Turkey’s new high-speed rail: victory for Erdogan – and China

By Rod Sweet

Global Construction Review - 29 July 2014

On Friday, Turkey inaugurated its long-awaited high-speed rail link between Istanbul and Ankara, cutting the 533km journey between the two cities from a typical seven hours to three and a half.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (pictured) was on board for the maiden voyage and hailed the 250km/h link, which cost $4.1bn, as vindication of his infrastructure policies as he campaigns for re-election ahead of polls next month, on 10 August.
“Despite all the attempts of sabotage, blockade, and slowdown, we completed the line and opened it for service today,” Mr Erdogan said at a campaign stop in the town of Eskisehir. The inauguration of the train link has been beset by hitches and delays, most recently when a train crashed into a maintenance vehicle.
But also claiming victory was China, which is keen to export its high-speed rail know-how – and its project cash – all over the world.
The Ankara-Istanbul link was built by a Chinese-Turkish consortium, which won the bid in 2005. China Railway Construction Corporation, China National Machinery Import and Export Corporation joined with Turkish firms Cengiz Construction and Ibrahim Cecen Ictas Construction.
China also lent Turkey $750m to part-finance the new link, say reports.