Story of “Tünel” the second oldest subway in the word, began with the vision of French engineer Eugene Henri Gavand. He saw that people were constantly going back and forth between Galata, which was center of social life, and Pera where the heart of trade and banking used to beat during those times. Gavand devised an alternative route to Yüksekkaldırım and Galipded Street he visited the Ottoman Sultan Abdülaziz Han to ask for permission to his project which was a funicular railway system to connect two centers. Project was implemented in a BOT (build,operate,transfer) model with an estimated 42 years operation period. Gavand obtained the concession on June 10th, 1869. Tünel construction works started on June 30th, 1871. On 1872’s July, the British Company the Metropolitan Railway of Constantinople from “Galata” to “Pera” was established. Construction was completed on December 5th, 1874 and “Tünel” starred transporting people on January 17th, 1875. A spectacular opening ceremony was organized and many local and foreing guests participated to the event.
Initial construction cost was 180 thousand Ottoman Liras and the energy for operations was supplied through 150 horsepower steam engines. Wagons were illuminated with gas lamps due to the fact that electricity was not available at the time. After electric trams had arrived in 1910, “Tünel” was asn an Ottoman company and took the title of “Dersaadet Mülhakatından Galata ve Beyoğlu Beyninde Tahtel!arz Demiryolu.” Tünel was purchased and nationalized by the Turkish Republic on March 1st, 1939. Then, it was handed ower to the General Directorate of İstanbul Electricity Tram and Tunnel Enterpries established with the Law no: 3645.
During the second Word War. Tünel had to close its doors for three and a half months due to some material shortage. In time it was renovated by a French Company called Electro Enterprise for 33 million TL and took its present form. Wagons cover a distance of 573 meters in 90 seconds thanks to a 350 HP electrical system and 170 passengers can travel in two directions at one time.
“Tunnel” is the second oldest subway in the world.