World Bulletin/News Desk
A major high-speed rail project to link Turkey's capital Ankara with its largest city of Istanbul has been held up due to sabotage attempts, Turkey's Transport Minister Lutfi Elvan told Anadolu Agency on Tuesday, pointing to end of June as a possible new deadline.
Elvan said the attempts to disrupt the project, taking place during test drives and certification processes, meant it could not be completed in the second half of May, as announced in April.
"We hope we won't experience these [attacks] in the future," Elvan said. "[Attackers] will not be able to do any harm once the signal tests are over and the trains are running."
Elvan said governors are boosting security measures in provinces which host rail lines.
Ministry officials realized that vandals used specialty scissors in sixty different locations to damage the rail by cutting communication and signalization cables.
Elvan said any attempts to disrupt the electrical systems would be easily detected once the rail becomes operational.
"Therefore the trouble is until we get the high-speed trains running. After that, we will have no problem."
The rail is expected to help save almost 40 percent of travel time between Ankara and Istanbul by cutting the journey to 3.5 hours.
There are currently three high-speed rail lines between Ankara, Konya and Eskisehir, all central Anatolian provinces.
Turkish State Railways had announced in January that it would invest almost half of its 2014 budget (1.8 billion liras) in high-speed trains, as part of a wide array of construction projects planned for Turkey's founding anniversary in 2023.
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