European Investment Bank (EIB) Vice President Wolfgang Roth yesterday signed an agreement in Ankara for a 200-million-euro loan to Turkey for the first fixed-rail connection of the European and Asian networks across the Bosporus Strait, the bank said in a statement. This is the first loan of a larger facility of up to 650 million approved by the EIB for the tunnel. Financing will be phased over the period of the project’s construction. «This is a milestone signature. The Bosporus tunnel is of crucial importance for the integration of Turkey with the EU and the development of the Union’s transport network,» Roth said. The project consists of connecting the two railway lines on the Pan-European Transport Corridor IV, presently terminating on either side of the Bosporus. With a total length of 76.53 kilometers (47.4 miles), the project includes the construction of 13.56km of double-track tunnel (of which 1.35km will be under the sea and 12.21km of approach tunnels), improvements to the two existing radial lines with an addition of a third track on a length of 62.97km, 40 stations, connections with other transport networks and rolling stock. The loan will be complemented by funding from the Japanese Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) and the Turkish government.