By Guc Gonel and Berk Ozkan
ISTANBUL (AA) - Construction began Saturday on a new high-speed metro line connecting the heart of Istanbul to the new mega-Istanbul Airport.
The new line, set to be finished in August 2021, will whisk passengers from Gayrettepe, in Sisli, on the Turkish metropolis’ European side, to the new airport in just 35 minutes.
At the ceremonial rail-welding ceremony, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish president, said: “We didn’t neglect the transportation issue when we built the new Istanbul Airport. Besides bus transportation from the city, we have started construction of a metro line which is linked to all public transportation."
The line will stretch 37.5 kilometers (23 miles) and will include nine stations.
Erdogan added that the transportation between the airport and Gayrettepe will be the country's fastest metro line, operating at 120 kilometers (74 miles) per hour.
Turning to the planned Canal Istanbul project, intended to give ships going to the Black Sea an alternate to the Bosphorus, Erdogan said the Turkish public has supported the project for nearly 10 years now.
“Actually there is nothing to discuss, this project has been a dream throughout history,” he added.
“We called it Canal Istanbul and announced the project in the 2011 elections. Our nation supported us with an overwhelming majority in the elections.”
* Writing by Davut Demircan