TODAY’S – High-speed train debacle highlights haste given to megaprojects

High-speed train debacle highlights haste given to megaprojectsTwo trains on the recently opened Istanbul-Ankara high-speed train line were temporarily halted on Saturday night due to electrical problems, according to a report from the DoIan news agency (DHA) on Sunday.One of the trains was Istanbul-bound, the other was heading to the capital city.

On the trainand#39s maiden voyage, which was attended by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip ErdoIan on July 25, an Istanbul-bound train broke down for half an hour due to technical issues.These recent incidents are only the latest in a series of delays, accidents and disasters that have made the high-speed train line appear to be cursed.

Meanwhile, experts have claimed the train line was not suitable for operation. United Transportation Workers Union Secretary-General Hasan BektaI said last month that opening the line would be andldquoan invitation for disaster,andrdquo claiming that signal systems throughout the line were incomplete or missing.

In spite of the warnings, the line was opened as scheduled, and on inauguration day ErdoIan boasted that the line was completed in spite of delays and sabotage, the latter referring to instances of vandalism that occurred on construction sites of the line earlier this year, which Transportation Minister Lufti Elvan also declared to be sabotage.In May a station on the line partially collapsed, injuring several workers, and earlier in July a train derailed and crashed during a test run.

Last year, the ambitious Marmaray project was finished after years of delay resulting from Byzantine archeological discoveries unearthed during excavation. The Marmaray, an underwater subway line connecting the European and Asian sides of Istanbul, opened in a similar fashion to the Istanbul-Ankara high-speed train line, insofar as both were claimed by experts to be unfit for operation and both were plagued by technical problems immediately after opening.

Former project engineer RIza Behet Akcan, who worked on the project for several years, said that if Marmaray was opened as is, a disaster could occurThe Chamber of Architects and Engineers (TMMOB) issued a similar warning prior to the opening, but it was dismissed by Istanbul Mayor Kadir TopbaI.Much fanfare was made about the opening date of Marmaray, Oct.

29, 2013, which was the 90th anniversary of the Turkish Republic. A bizarre revelation was made shortly after the opening involving a suicide pledge signed in blood by Turkish Transportation Ministry Infrastructure Investment Director General Metin Tahan reached the Turkish press.

Tahan convinced Japanese engineers working the project to sign the letter, which said that they would commit suicide if the project was not completed in time.On opening day, Marmaray experienced power outages, requiring passengers to walk through the tunnel to the next station.

Recent reports of leaks in two stations of Marmaray — which extends underwater for four kilometers — created concern that seawater was seeping in however, Turkish State Railways (TCDD) officials said that the leaks resulted from moisture that accumulated in the tunnels.Last month, several ski jumps in the eastern province of Erzurum collapsed following a landslide, and it was subsequently revealed that the jumps — part of a complex that cost TL 67 million — were built with faulty construction after prosecutors investigated the collapse.

It was found that incorrect calculations were made by contractors and that the jumps were built in a landslide-prone area The jumps were built for the 25th Winter Universiade, which was held in Erzurum in 2011. The jumps were built as part of a greater push to promote winter sports in Turkey.

Three workers died when part of a viaduct collapsed on the construction site of Istanbuland#39s third Bosporus Bridge in April, further stoking the controversy surrounding the megaproject, which has been lambasted by environmentalists as disastrous for the green areas and water reservoirs in the north of the city.While the authorities claim that the bridge is being built for the purpose of alleviating heavy traffic, critics have asserted that it is a scheme to develop the forested areas located near the opening of the Black SeaThe project began last year, and like Marmaray, will open on the anniversary of a historic event.

Prime Minister ErdoIan said last year that the bridge will be opened on May 29, 2015, the anniversary of Fatih Sultan Mehmetand#39s conquering of Constantinople.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman