The contract was signed by Mr Binali Yildirim, Turkey's minister of transport, shipping and communications, Mr Süleyman Karaman, general director of Turkish State Railways (TCDD) and a consortium of Turkish civil engineering contractors comprising Sigma, Burkey, Makimsan and YDA.

The first phase will run 167km from Polatli to the west of Ankara to Afyon and will cost Lira 714.4m to construct. The line will have 11 tunnels totalling 8km, 16 viaducts measuring a total of 6300m, and 24 bridges. The line, which plugs an important gap in the rail network, will be operated at 250km/h enabling a journey time of 1h 30min from Ankara to Afyon.

TCDD has already invited tenders for the second stage of the project from Afyon to Usak and hopes to complete both phases by 2015. The final section to Izmir is not due to completed until 2023, when the Ankara – Izmir journey time will be cut from 13h 15min today by overnight train to just 3h 30min.