UK government backs key Turkish rail link construction with €781 million
UK Export Finance (UKEF), the UK government’s export credit agency, will unlock 781 million euros in financing for a new high-speed railway in Southern Turkey. The money comes with the condition that UK firms will supply to the project, the government said earlier this week.
The project that UKEF will support alongside JP Morgan, ING and BNP is the conversion of the existing rail link between the cities of Mersin, Adana, Osmaniye and Gaziantep to a high-speed line. The current route is served by diesel trains. Once the 286-kilometre high-speed railway is completed, the route will be electrified. Most importantly, it will provide a state-of-the-art railway connection to Turkey’s second-largest container port in Mersin.
Mersin is Turkey’s second-largest container port and home to more than 1 million inhabitants, so the high-speed line should also contribute to a modal shift and take lorries off the road. The existing railway largely follows the highway linking the southern cities, which are major population centres: Adana has around 1,8 million residents, while some 2,1 million people call Gaziantep home.
“Mersin, Adana and Gaziantep are among the region’s highly industrialised and important cities. This project will ensure a reduction of transportation costs, decrease travel time between Mersin and Gaziantep and strengthen our railway connectivity”, Turkish Treasury and Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek said in comments on the railway.
Trains will run at speeds of up to 200 kilometres per hour on the new high-speed line. As a result, travel time between Mersin and Gaziantep will be reduced to four hours. “By upgrading the existing railway line to a high standard railway line, we will be actively reducing negative environmental impact while offering a lower-carbon travel alternative and significantly enhancing the region’s industrial connectivity and trade, ” said Erman Ilıcak, President of Rönesans Holding.
Rönesans will be responsible for the construction work, which is expected to result in multimillion-pound export contract opportunities for the UK’s infrastructure, engineering and project management sectors. According to the UK government, negotiations between Rönesans and UK firms have already started, covering the supply of electronic infrastructure, environmental, social and governance (ESG) consultancy services, and catenary and mechanical components.