Skip to content

Why Istanbul Is Building the Largest Monorail Network in Europe

The system will boost the efforts of Turkey's largest city to stitch together a coherent transit network.
The monorail network will have a terminal Ataşehir, Istanbul.
The monorail network will have a terminal Ataşehir, Istanbul. Wikimedia Commons

This week, Istanbul started the process of building the largest monorail network Europe has ever seen. Covering 47 kilometers (29 miles) and ultimately carrying 200,000 passengers a day, Turkey's largest city will one day have a total of eight monorail lines snaking across it, adding missing links to a still-developing transit system. But despite being one of the largest monorail systems yet constructed (only Chonqqing's is larger), it will be something that the average tourist will most likely never see.

This is because the new network will largely stay beyond the fringes of Central Istanbul. Certainly, it will include one key inner city link (from Beyoğlu to Sisli) and a very welcome connection to Istanbul's second airport, Sabiha Gökçen. The other lines will be scattered around Istanbul's outlying districts, acting not as major arteries, but as short capillaries feeding passengers into city metro and light rail systems that are themselves still partly under construction. Locals are already debating whether the new network is the most joined-up answer to Istanbul's congestion problems. Outsiders, on the other hand, might be tempted to ask something different entirely: Why build a monorail in the first place?