This morning, I shared my thoughts on the incredible transcontinental Marmaray Tunnel, and I promised more later about other transformative projects afoot in Turkey. As we get rolling on a high-speed rail system of our own in America, one of the most exciting things for me is to see how other countries have integrated high-speed passenger rail into their own national transportation networks.
Last week, I had the excellent experience of riding Turkey's high-speed rail line from Ankara to Eskişehir. And yesterday I had the pleasure of riding high-speed rail in Italy.
When completed, the 331-mile Ankara-to-Istanbul high-speed rail line in Turkey will cut existing train travel times in half. It will reduce traffic congestion on that nation's busiest stretch of roadway. And door-to-door travel times on this 155-mph route will be faster than air travel between Turkey's two largest cities.That will take a lot of cars off Turkey's roadways, and a lot of greenhouse gas emissions from the environment. And I can assure future passengers that the ride is very, very smooth, and the trains are quite comfortable.
And Turkey's high-speed rail won't end with the Ankara-to-Istanbul line. TCDD plans to cross the country with high-speed rail from Izmir in the west, through Ankara, and all the way east to Kars.
Perhaps Turkish State Railways' most ambitious goal is to increase mode share for trains between the two cities from 10% all the way up to 78%.
That's not as big a stretch as you might expect. One case in point? Italy. In 2008, 36% of travelers from Milan to Rome rode the train, compared with 51% who flew. Today, 60% of travelers are taking the train and only 30% are flying.
It's no coincidence that Italy nearly doubled its high-speed rail miles from 2006 to 2009. Italy has developed a comprehensive system that benefits ordinary citizens as well as people who want to do business on the train. At the stations in Italy, we saw hundreds of people excited about boarding their trains. And, as in Turkey, the ride itself was smooth and the countryside beautiful.
We've seen this mode-share phenomenon in Spain as well. And, as the Obama Administration grows an American high-speed rail network, I expect to see similar trends here.
Now, wherever we go to visit high-speed rail facilities--whether it's Japan, Spain, France, Germany, China, Russia, Turkey, or Italy--we're encouraging manufacturers and technology experts to compete for opportunities to help develop an American high-speed rail industry. But I also make it clear that we expect them to locate plants in the US and hire American workers.
We are working hard at DOT to make sure we get American high-speed rail right. And with reduced travel times, good-paying American jobs, and a lighter carbon footprint, we know we'll have a winning combination.