This image was shared by a passenger showing people walking through the tunnel. DHA Photo
Marmaray, the first railway crossing under the Bosphorus, started its first day of operations in less than auspicious circumstances, as passengers were subjected to numerous delays due to technical issues.
Marmaray journeys from the Anatolian side to the European side of Istanbul were halted for a period of time due to a technical malfunction in the doors on Oct. 30. Journeys resumed after the problems were resolved.
In the morning, journeys were also interrupted due to a power blackout. Operations resumed after the problem was rectified.
The Turkish State Railways (TCDD) claimed that the halts were caused by people who pushed the emergency button out of curiosity.
“The train halts took place after some passengers who got on the train for the first time pushed the emergency button,” said the TCDD in a statement.
“There is an extraordinary congestion and attraction to the Marmaray which started to operate [yesterday]... We expect our citizens to avoid the unnecessary use of the Marmaray,” said the TCDD, implying that some citizens who embarked on one side did not disembark at the other end.
Speaking in İzmir, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
accused those who pushed the emergency button of attempting to cast doubts on the new tunnel system as they tweeted about the halt of the rail link from the passenger car.
During the power cut on the Marmaray, people disembarked and walked to the next station, sharing photos of the moments on social media.
Transport Minister Binali Yıldırım claimed that the electricity cut in the Marmaray was caused by a general problem in the city’s main electricity system, according to daily Radikal. When asked about promises that there would be no electricity cuts on the Marmaray, Yıldırım said the situation had nothing to do with the Marmaray but was connected to the city’s electricity grid.
He also said “social media has become a gossip media” when pictures taken in the Marmaray during the power cut were brought up by reporters.
Meanwhile, passengers that embarked at Yenikapı station on the European side realized that the tube had bypassed Sirkeci station on European side and taken them straight to Üsküdar station on the Anatolian side. Some of those who aimed to go to Sirkeci had to return across the Bosphorus in ferries.
The TCDD said in its statement that the train would not stop at Sirkeci Station due to “unexpected passenger congestion.”
Later in the afternoon, railway officers prevented journalists and camera operators from entering the station, Doğan News Agency reported.
“No more shooting is allowed in stations according to a new order,” an officer said.
Erdoğan had announced on Oct. 29 that the tunnel system would be free-of-charge to everyone for the first 15 days of operations.
The much-anticipated project was opened yesterday with a ceremony attended by Turkish leaders as well as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta, Somali President Hasan Sheikh Mahmud and a number of foreign civil servants.
Despite the government and Istanbul municipality’s confidence in the Marmaray, which they dub “the project of the century,” it has been the target of mounting criticism that it is being hastily rushed into service without proper safety checks.
The Chamber of Architects and Engineers (TMMOB) issuing a warning stating that the section of the project that would be opened in the first stage had no active electronic safety system.
The TMMOB also said the underwater tunnel was at risk of ruptures in certain sections that could allow water to fill the tunnel.
The project’s durability in the event of an earthquake has also been questioned, as the Marmara region is a high-risk earthquake zone.