Turkey unveils new high speed train to Anatolia
ISTANBUL – Agence France-Presse
The Istanbul-Konya journey time on the high speed line is four hours 15 minutes, compared to 13 hours on the old trains. AA PhotoPresident Recep Tayyip Erdoğan inaugurated a high speed train link from Istanbul to the Central Anatolian city of Konya on Dec. 17, which cuts journey times by nearly nine hours.
Erdoğan himself opened the line at a ceremony in Konya, 460 kilometers southeast of Istanbul, and declared that all travel on it would be free for the first week.
The president said the line was the latest step in his multi-billion dollar drive to modernize Turkey.
"For decades, we only sat back and watched developments taking place in the West. We could see high speed trains only on TV and see planes only when we lay down on the ground and looked up to the sky," Erdoğan said in a televised speech.
"But thanks to us, Turkey has gone through a great transformation in 12 years. We have cleared the way for our people," he added.
Religiously conservative Konya, which has a population of over one million, is a key economic hub in central Turkey and a stronghold of support for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
The Istanbul-Konya journey time on the high speed line is four hours 15 minutes, compared to 13 hours on the old trains. Two departures are planned a day, with tickets starting at 42.5 Turkish Liras ($18).
Erdoğan is pressing ahead with plans to build a high speed train network across Turkey, which has so far lagged behind Europe in railways with most journeys made by road or plane.
In July he inaugurated the first high speed train line between Istanbul and Ankara, which cut journey times in half to just 3.5 hours. There is already a high speed line between Ankara and Konya.