The agreement was signed on July 3 in the Turkish capital Ankara by Turkey's minister of maritime affairs Mr Feridun Bilgin and the EU delegation's chargé d'affairs Mr Bela Szombati. The director general of Turkish State Railways (TCDD), Mr Ömer Yildiz was also present.

Under the deal, TCDD will provide €39m while the EU will contribute €220m. The 370km line suffers from sharp curves which will be eased to enable line speeds to be increased. This will allow the Sivas – Samsun journey time to be cut from 9 hours today to 5 hours. The capacity of the line will also be increased from 21 to 54 trains per day.

TCDD plans to complete the work in 2018. As a result, it expects passenger traffic to increase from 95 to 168 million passenger-km and freight to grow from 657 to 867 million tonne-km a year.