Post by Klaus von der Heyde Post by Graeme Wall
A rail tunnel under the Bosphorus opens today. Heralded as a link
in a route between Europe and China.
From what was mentioned on TV today, it is more like a intra-city
rapid transit route. Will freight trains even be allowed in the
Yes. The tunnel, as far as I know, has 3 tracks. Two are for suburban
traffic (from Gebze to Halkali) and the third one is for long distance,
both passenger and freight.
However, trains from Europe to China along this route are still far
- first of all, the line to Iran still requires a passage on a lake
Van ferry, which can embark 10-12 rail vehicles maximum, are slow and
old, and take 6 hours to cross. Not appropriate for mile-long container
trains. TCDD is supposed to study an alternative, but it's been
announced for decades already, with nothing concrete yet in sight
- then once in Iran, you can head towards Turkmenistan and central
Asia, but that requires a gauge change, like on the transsib, and far
more border crossings, with the associated bureacracy nightmares. So
no reason to prefer this route over the well established transsib one.
- Or you can head towards Pakistan, which requires crossing a very
troubled and unsecure territory, and India, but once there it is a
dead end. There are no rail connections going further east.
If the troubles in Pakistan settle down, and if a lake Van alternative
comes to light, then this route might become a land bridge between
Europe and India. But for China, there are far better alternatives.
In the very long term, the UNESCAP wet dreams might become reality,
and an India-Burma-Thailand rail connection could be built. But if it
happens, it will be metre-gauge (as are all railways in south-east
Asia today) and thus still require gauge change or trans-shipment.
So still far from ideal. And who knows, it will take so long to
that in the mean time, cost of labour in Europe and Asia will get even,
and cheap labor work de-localized to Africa or South America. Back to
Marc Van Dyck