A delegation of Turkish officials and businessmen, including the Prime Minister, recently visited China to discuss a high speed rail link, which will be a joint project between the two countries. China is anxious to promote itself within Turkey as it sees this as a way of connecting via rail with Europe. With the planned Marmaray project under the Bosporus connecting to the Edirne-Kars railway, it would be possible to travel all the way from China, onto both Spain and England.
At the moment Istanbul is already connected to Bucharest and Belgrade through a conventional railway line, the Bosporus-Europe Express, but it has been argued that this line could be upgraded to provide a high speed link, if the governments involved give their permission.
Chinese firms are hoping the Edirne-Kars project, which will extend all the way from China’s eastern coast, could be split into separate sections, allowing separate tenders to be put in by individual firms. This railway project was first proposed in 2010, and is the country’s largest ever railway project. It will pass through 29 provinces in Turkey, connecting east to west, reducing travel times from 36 hours to just 12, with 10,000 km expected to be completed by 2023. A loan agreement signed by Turkey and China in 2010 saw China lend $30 billion for the planned railway network.
Other construction projects discussed in Beijing included the third bridge over the Bosporus in Istanbul, as China is very interested in becoming more involved in building projects in Turkey. For its part, Turkey is hoping to attract around $80 billion worth of foreign investment into construction projects over the next ten years.