Turkey connects Europe and Asia with new railway tunnel under the Bosporus

WASHINGTON – Turkey is for the first time connecting its European and Asian sides with a railway tunnel set to open Monday, completing a plan proposed about 150 years ago.

The tunnel is one of several large infrastructure projects under Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government that have helped boost the economy but have also provoked a backlash of protest.

The tunnel runs 1.4 kilometres (4,593 feet) under the Bosporus, the straight that connects the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara and divides Istanbul between Asia and Europe. Turkish officials say that at more than 55 metres (yards) below the sea floor, it will be the deepest submerged railway tunnel in the world.

Officials hope that with a 1.5 million passengers a day, it will ease some of Istanbul’s chronic traffic.