OFFICIAL inauguration ceremonies attended by Turkey’s vice president, Mr Fuat Oktay, and other ministers, cabinet members, politicians and rail industry leaders, have taken place to mark the opening of the Ankara - Sivas high-speed line.

Minister of transport and infrastructure, Mr Adil Karaismailoğlu, had announced in advance on April 13 that the new line - which he described as “one of the major projects that our nation is looking forward to” - was likely to enter service at the end of Ramadan.

After the departure of the first train from Ankara High Speed Railway Station carrying Oktay, Karaismailğlu, Turkish State Railways (TCDD) general manager Mr Hasan Pezük and the other politicians and officials, a series of opening ceremonies was held at Kirikkale, Yozgat and Sivas stations.

The nation’s president, Mr Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was unable to attend the ceremonies due to ill health, but he issued an announcement via social media that travel on the new line would be free for all citizens until the end of May.

“Our Ankara - Sivas line will also be an important part of the east-west high-speed rail corridor stretching from Edirne to Kars,” Oktay said.  ”With the commissioning of this line, we increase the total length of the railway to 13,896km, and the length of high-speed lines to 2228km. Currently, construction works continue on high-speed lines with a total length of 3593km. Hopefully, we will make Turkey one of the world's leading countries in high-speed rail, as in other fields.”

Another view of the politicians and officials gathered at Ankara's high-speed railway station for the line's opening formalities. Photo credit: TCDD

Trains on the Ankara - Silvas high-speed line are able to operate at up to 250km/h, and the line has reduced the distance by rail between the two cities from 603km to 405km, with the total journey time cut to 2 hours, and that from Ankara to Yozgat to 1 hour. There are eight stations at Elmadağ, Kırıkkale, Yerköy, Yozgat, Sorgun, Akdağmadeni, Yıldızeli and Sivas and the line will serve an estimated 1.4 million people living in the provinces of Kırıkkale, Yozgat and Sivas.

Civil engineering for the project, which passes through difficult terrain, has included the construction of 49 tunnels with a total length of 66km, the longest being a 5.12km tunnel at Akdağmadeni. The high-speed line also has 49 viaducts with a total length of 27.2km. The longest viaduct at Çerikli-Kırıkkale is 2.22km long, while the highest at Elmadağ has piers which are 89m high, making it the highest such structure in Turkey.

The Ankara - Sivas project has seen the first use of domestically-produced rail on a high-speed line in Turkey, with a total of 1676km of rail installed.

The line has also seen the country’s first use of ballastless, concrete slab track over 138km of the route, especially in tunnels. Also as part of the project, an ice prevention and defrosting facility was built in Sivas.

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