Rail upgrades on track to increasing investment appeal of Istanbul property market

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Many of Istanbul’s burgeoning residential districts are on the verge of becoming more accessible places to live, after a landmark new rail link connecting the European and Asian sides of the city neared completion when it carried its first passengers as part of a test run in August.

The Marmaray Project, described as one of Turkey’s greatest railway engineering projects ever, is a much needed solution to the effects of Istanbul’s traffic congestion and expanding suburbs, caused by the city’s rapidly growing population. It is expected to open at the end of October 2013, four years after the initial completion date.

The four main components of the Marmaray Project include an underwater railway tunnel beneath the Istanbul Strait – the deepest immersed structure in the world, improvement of the Gebze-Haydarpasa and Sirkeci-Halkali suburban railway lines, electrical and mechanical upgrades, including rebuilding 37 stations and three new ones, and the procurement of new rolling stock.

“The Marmaray Project will be a real shot in the arm for Istanbul as a whole, but a number of districts will really benefit,” said Julian Walker, Director at Spot Blue. “It will not only provide an east to west transport corridor between the European and Asian sides of the city, but there will also be a connection at Yenkapi to the north-south metro line, completing a very effective and convenient transport system. Turks will find it much easier to commute from the city’s suburban areas and developments close to stations should be very appealing to foreign buyers, including buy-to-let investors. Only recently we sold a $150,000 apartment in Istanbul’s Bahcesehir district to someone from the Middle East.”

Halkali is a district on the western edge of the European side of Istanbul and the furthest terminal on the new suburban rail line. It 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. Halkali also has rail connections to other cities, in and beyond Turkey.

Walker continued: “Halkali is already a busy hub, thanks to its excellent connections, and the Marmaray Project will enhance this. We have opportunities to invest in a selection of new developments there, with prices starting at around £36,000 for a studio apartment, rising to around £104,000 for a three-bedroom apartment. The other bonus about Halkali is that is it very close to the city’s Ataturk Airport.” Other areas on the European side where Spot Blue has investment opportunities include Beylikduzu and Bahcesehir.

“Otherwise, on the city’s eastern side we have opportunities in Erenkoy, which is on the new Halkali-Gebze line, so with great transport links. There we have smart four-bedroom apartments from around £450,000,” added Walker.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s first high speed inter-city rail service running between Ankara and Istanbul, is due for completion next year. There are plans to connect this with the new Marmaray suburban line, thus effectively completing a high speed train line between Asia and Europe.

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