As delegates gathered at the inaugural Automotive Logistics Turkey conference in Istanbul last week, the city was celebrating the completion of a crucial stage in one of the world’s most ambitious logistics infrastructure developments – a 1,387-metre rail tunnel that will carry the Marmaray rail link at a depth of 55 metres under the Bosphorus strait.
The tunnel is part of a $7 billion project connecting Europe with Asia. By 2012 it will provide an uninterrupted, modern, high-capacity rail system for commuters and industry, running from Halkalý on the European side to Gebze on the Asian side. Once public commuter trains have stopped at 23:00, the link will be dedicated to freight until 07:00 the following morning.
The entire system will be approximately 76km long and hugs the coastline for large sections (see picture).
The link is crucial in alleviating the chronic congestion that plagues Istanbul’s roads and will greatly improve the poor infrastructure that Turkey needs to support its automotive industry. At the conference, 75 per cent of delegates put infrastructure as the biggest challenge facing the automotive industry in the country.
Discussing recent analysis of automotive logistics in the Marmara region involving experts from the Automotive Manufacturers’ Association (OSD) and Koç University, Dr Metin Türkay of the university told those gathered at the conference that there was a proposal “to push logistics activity from road transportation to rail”. Based on the findings of the analysis, Dr Türkay said that once the link is up and running “it will be possible to accommodate at least 3,000 TIR vehicles in each direction through Marmaray”.
“Unfortunately all our products are carried by the trucks to the harbours and we need some direct connections between the manufacturers and the harbours by train as much as possible,” said Professor Dr Ercan Tezer from the OSD.