ISTANBUL - Turkey officially launched an undersea commuter train connecting the Asian and European sides of Istanbul on Tuesday. President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan attended the inauguration together with more than 10,000 people besides the Bosporus strait. The government launched the project to mark the 90th anniversary of the founding of the republic. The project aims to ease Istanbul's heavy traffic and reduce travel time between the two sides of the Bosporus to four minutes. Marmaray, the name given to the undersea tunnel that will connect the two continents, will carry 75,000 passengers per hour and around 1 million passengers per day. On Tuesday, a 13.6 kilometer section of the 76.3 kilometer project is being launched after numerous test runs of the Marmaray tube were conducted. Speaking at the International Silk Road Conference in Istanbul on Monday, Binali Yildir m, minister of the transportation, maritime affairs and communications ministry, said the Marmaray is
more than just a Turkish project to improve public transportation in Istanbul, but part of the Silk Road, which has served humanity for centuries, connecting Asia and Europe. "This is a project of reuniting civilizations. The Silk Road is not only a caravan route but a road that links Western and Eastern civilizations," he said.