Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is to inaugurate the high speed train line connecting Istanbul and Ankara today, the two largest cities in the country.
The ceremonies are due to take place at the first station Eskisehir at 2:30pm (local time), while Erdogan is expected to participate in the official opening of the rail line at the Pendik station in Istanbul, at 6:30pm.
The train line stretches 533 kilometres and a trip using the service takes three hours and 30 minutes. Some 7.5 million passengers are expected to use the high speed link every year.
The line consists of nine stations, including Gebzespor, Izmit, Eskisehir and Polatli. A section of track was laid down using an EU grant of €150 million, while the entire project cost $4 billion; the Ankara government obtained a loan of $2 billion to fund part of the development.
The service is due to run six return journeys every day in the first phase, and will be expanded in 2015 to link the Marmaray tunnel which connects the two sides of Istanbul under the waters of the Bosphorus.