Hopping on and off new metro shatters people’s expectations .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:none; color:#000000;} .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink:hover { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:underline; color:#990000;} ISTANBUL - Although Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality opened major metro line extensions over the weekend with glamorous ceremonies, brand new, shining blue subways cannot run on the old rail track because the signaling system for the new trains does not match the old one

Traveling down four escalators to reach the subway track in Şişhane, one of the newly-opened metro stops in Istanbul, is a bit like entering a construction area. It becomes harder to breath underground, yet the immaculate interior design proves the stop is a new one.

The shining-new metro wagon looks different to those operating between Taksim and 4. Levent that have been running for eight years.

Blue shiny seats and the latest-technology screens inside the South Korean-made wagons made it feel like it was going to take its passengers somewhere other than to the next stop, Taksim. It is this one-stop journey on the new metro that has shattered some people’s expectations.

Although the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality opened major metro line extensions over the weekend with glamorous ceremonies, the brand new subways cannot run on the old rail track that operates between Taksim and 4. Levent. People looked at each other with questioning glances when the metro stopped at Taksim and asked: now what?

A man with a long, brown, expensive-looking coat said to his friend: "We have to get off and follow the track to catch the old metro that stops in 4. Levent for us to change tracks again to catch the new metro." His friend gave a hesitant smile.

This confusion has continued since the opening of the promising new metro line. People have had to hop on and off trains because the signals of the new metro system cannot be operated using the old system.

Signaling systems in trains are as important as security systems in airplanes. Istanbul Transportation Company, in charge of Istanbul’s rail systems, is working on integrating the old signaling system with the new one.

Technology amped

"The old technology is being turned into a new system. We did not want to keep the new trains waiting for eight months. At least people who want to travel with the new trains can use them," said the municipality’s press consultant, Cengiz Öztürk.

According to CNN Turk, the new metro cannot run from one point to the other in 31 minutes.

"Announcements are being made inside the stops for passengers to find out when and how they should change tracks. We are doing our best to avoid confusion. But for those who think changing track takes too much time they should not use the metro," Öztürk said. Trains only run from 4. Levent to the new stops at Sanayi Mahallesi, ITU Ayazağa and Atatürk Oto Sanayi from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m due to precautions taken for passengers’ safety, said the metro’s press consultant.

"Launching a project without a feasibility study is not smart. It is obvious that the municipality opened the new metro line before the local elections on March 29 just to show off. The project is technically not finished and it makes it harder for people to use the metro," said Tayfun Kahraman, the secretary of the Union of Turkish Engineers and Architectures Chambers, or TMMOB.

"I was expecting the time between 4. Levent and Atatürk Oto Sanayi to shorten but instead I spend time walking inside the platform to take the new metro and then waiting for the other train to arrive," said Kahraman. According to him, it is not a perfect project, but huge progress in Istanbul’s railway systems has been made.

Istanbul Transportation Company plans to operate 92 wagons by the end of the year whereas today only 24 wagons run along the lines. The line that starts from Şişhane, connecting Tunel at the end of İstiklal Street to Taksim Square, and ending in the finance district of Istanbul, Atatürk Oto Sanayi, is expected to operate seamlessly by July. Urban planner Sema Kubat, from Istanbul Technical University, has not been to the newly opened metro stations yet but she said: "Without planning it from A to Z, the metro should not start running. However, with the bustling traffic of Istanbul it is good that the municipality is pointing people toward the metro rather than to their cars."