Culture & Art

Haydarpasa closed for restoration after 104 years

Tuesday evening saw emotions running high as the last train to depart from İstanbul's Haydarpaşa train station for what is predicted to be at least 30 months, the Fatih Express, pulled out of the historic station at 11:30 p.m. There will now be a break in services from Turkey's busiest rail terminal for the first time since the station's main building opened in 1908, so that works on the high-speed train (YHT) line to Ankara and the Marmaray project, which will connect İstanbul's Asian and European sides via an undersea commuter train line, can be completed.

The decision, which has been talked about vaguely for some time, has sparked anger and frustration among people of all generations, with many seeing the move as typical of a trend towards pushing regeneration in İstanbul to the detriment of preserving historic structures.

Ali Çorapçı, who has lived in İstanbul for 40 years and used the services from Haydarpaşa often, described the station as an important connection point between Asia and Europe.

Another regular passenger, Ayşen Yılmaz drew attention to the fact that Haydarpaşa provided cheap and regular services to citizens of all ages to destinations all over Anatolia. “I am strongly against this decision. We need to take a stand to protect our history and heritage. I hope the station opens again as soon as possible. The decision to close down old buildings like this and renovate them in such a way that destroys their historic character or turn them into shopping centers is very wrong,” she said.

Despite the fact that no such plan has been voiced to turn Haydarpaşa into a modern complex or shopping center, there have been rumors circulating over the past months that the break in services could see such changes take place.

Other regular uses of the services have voiced concerns that transport will now be a lot more expensive given the fact that the train services were always considerably cheaper than traveling long distances by private bus companies. This will be the first break in services at the station since 1908, when the station in its current form was inaugurated by Sultan Abdülhamid II. The first rail line from Haydarpaşa was constructed in 1872 by Sultan Abudülaziz.

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