High-speed train services have started between Turkey’s capital Ankara and the outskirts of its biggest city Istanbul.
The line – inaugurated by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan – is part of a planned network of such rail links to ease the burden on Turkey’s increasingly congested highways.
The Spanish-made trains have a top speed of 250 kilometres an hour and will make the more than 500 kilometre journey in three and a half hours.
Next year the line is due to connect with the Marmaray rail link below the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul.
Until then passengers will disembark at Pendik, on the eastern outskirts of the Asian side of Istanbul, some 30 kilometres (20 miles) from the Bosphorus.
Those traveling to and from Istanbul city centre will for now complete their journey by bus and subway.
This the latest in a series of “mega projects” Erdogan hopes will help him win a presidential election in a few weeks time.
Turkey’s economic development – driven partly by major infrastructure projects – has been the foundation of the prime minister’s popularity despite deepening discontent among his opponents at what they see as growing authoritarianism.
“Twelve years ago, a fast train was nothing more than a dream … We are now a country which makes its dreams come true,” Erdogan said.
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