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Marmaray railway experiences teething problems

31 October 2013

The Marmaray rail tunnel experienced technical hitches on its first day in service. Following the grand opening on Tuesday, yesterday’s passengers endured a series of delays because of technical problems.

The first railway tunnel to run under the Bosphorus between the Anatolian side to the European side of Istanbul, experienced teething problems when train doors malfunctioned yesterday. Journeys were also delayed because of a power cut.

However, commuters were again on their way when those problems had been resolved.

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.

In Izmir, Prime Minister Erdogan accused those who pushed the emergency button, of attempting to undermine confidence in the new tunnel system as commuters tweeted about the halt of services from the passenger cars.

During the power cut on the Marmaray, people disembarked and walked to the next station, sharing photos of the event on social media.

Transport Minister Binali Yildirim claimed that the electricity cut in the Marmaray was caused by a general problem in the city’s main electricity system. When asked about promises that there would be no electricity cuts on the Marmaray, Yildirim said the situation had nothing to do with the Marmaray but was connected to the city’s electricity grid.

The ambitious tunnel project sparked controversy because its location is in a region which has a high risk of earthquakes.  There has also been criticism by some engineers working on the project who say that it could become flooded and there were no safety contingencies in place.

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