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New railway tunnel promises to make Istanbul an East-West trading hub

A new railway tunnel linking the European and Asian sides of Istanbul opened on 29th October, with hopes it will make Istanbul a convenient trading route between Western Europe and South-east Asia, including China, in essence a modern-day Silk Road.

The 1.4-kilometre tunnel, which runs under the Bosphorus Strait and is designed to withstand earthquakes, cost around $4billion to construct, of which $1billion has been invested by Bank of Japan. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was present at the official opening, alongside Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan.

The tunnel, officially called the Marmaray Project, will only be partly operational at its launch, going fully operational at a later date. It is expected to relieve pressure on Istanbul’s two bridges over the Bosphorus and it will mean many of Istanbul’s residential districts will become more accessible – and therefore more desirable – places to live.

Developments close to stations in particular should make appealing buy-to-let opportunities for foreign investors. Halkali, on the western edge of Istanbul’s European side, is one such district that will benefit from the rail upgrades – it is also very close to the city’s Ataturk Airport. Halkali will be linked by a high-capacity line with Gebze on the Asian side of the city. The journey time between these two terminals will drop to an estimated 104 minutes with the new rail service, from the current 185 minutes.

Elsewhere, plans for the world’s largest airport are now underway in Istanbul with the city’s third ‘mega’ airport forecast to be operational by 2017. To see Spot Blue’s properties for sale in Istanbul click here.

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