Istanbul’s New Metro Line Moves Turkey Forward

IFC is supporting a new metro line that will add 450,000 daily passengers to Istanbul’s metro system.

Istanbul is home to the world’s second-oldest underground urban rail line, built in 1875. But as technology evolved throughout the 20th century, the city’s plan for underground transportation did not. Construction works for the Istanbul’s first “modern” mass transit railway system began in the late 1980s, but since then, Istanbul population has already doubled to 16 million.

Lacking underground transportation that meets steadily increasing demand, cars have come to rule the road, and the resulting traffic jams make Istanbul notorious as one of the world’s most congested urban centers. All the congestion not only leads to pollution, it also has serious economic consequences on a city that produces 20 percent of Turkey’s gross domestic product.

To ease urban congestion, IFC is providing $120 million in financing for a new metro line between two densely populated Istanbul districts, Kabatas and Mecidiyekoy. When it opens in 2023, it will add about 450,000 daily passengers to Istanbul’s metro system and help to speed travel times. This greater efficiency will ultimately contribute to higher productivity and economic growth in Istanbul. By alleviating congestion on the urban road network, the project is also expected to lead to a significant reduction in greenhouse emissions.


As Cities Swell, Urban Transport Evolves

Rapid growth—and the demand for urban services that accompanies a swelling population—is not unique to Istanbul. By 2045, the number of people living in cities around the world is expected to increase by 50 percent, to 6 billion. This accelerated urbanization means that major investments in urban infrastructure are a necessary part of improving living standards and spurring sustainable growth.

In Istanbul, the largest metropolitan municipality in Turkey, IFC’s loan will finance the construction and electromechanical works of the 5.3-kilometer Kabatas-Mecidiyekoy metro line, including three stations. The new metro line will be constructed on the European side of the city and will establish an important east-west public transit axis running through seven northern districts of Istanbul and interconnecting four existing tram/metro lines.

Alongside this work, IFC is helping finance and extension of the light rail network in the eastern city of Izmir. The support, one element of our long-term partnership with the city, will help the municipality buy 85 light-rail transit vehicles and follows earlier investments that helped in the construction of urban tram lines.


Addressing the Challenges of Urbanization

IFC’s public transport projects in Turkey is part of our wider effort to help build sustainable, resilient cities in the country and the rest of Europe and Central Asia. Through a combination of investments and advisory services, IFC is encouraging the construction of eco-friendly buildings, showing municipalities how to better manage waste, and helping businesses and homeowners conserve water.

Climate-smart investments are a particularly important focus for projects in areas that are urbanizing fast. Last year, IFC invested $230 million in green building projects in Turkey, Bulgaria, and Georgia, helping office blocks and apartment complexes reduce the amount of water, heat, and electricity they use. IFC also directed about $225 million towards renewable energy projects in Turkey and Armenia.

Turkey remains a priority country for IFC and the World Bank Group. Our investment in the Istanbul metro system not only provides local governments with access to long-term financing but also helps implement an urban infrastructure project that will improve the lives of Turks as they work, shop, and travel in one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the world.

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Published in November 2016


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