New metro line operated with Chinese-made automated driverless trains, capable of speed of up to 74.5 miles (120 kilometers) per hour with daily capacity of 800,000 passengers, now connects central Istanbul and Turkey’s capital’s new international airport. The fully-automated, driverless trains were built by Chinese company CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive Co., Ltd., which signed a purchase and commissioning contract with Türkiye’s Directorate-General of Infrastructure Investments back in January 2020.


The 21-mile (34-kilometer) metro line between the Kagithane Station in central Istanbul and the city’s new international airport boasts Türkiye’s fastest trains, and the vehicles running the line are China’s first 120km/h automated driverless metro project for the overseas market, according to CRRC ZELC. The contract was for 176 subway cars and required a 60 percent localization rate in Türkiye.

“This metro line will allow travel from Kagithane Station to the Istanbul Airport in 24 minutes,” said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during the public opening ceremony on Sunday. According to CRRC ZELC’s subsidiary in Türkiye, 40 vehicles have been delivered with work on the other 136 ongoing at the company’s factory in Ankara.

New additions to the line, which will be made as manufacturing continues, will increase the train frequency and provide a faster, more convenient transportation network for Istanbul residents. The vehicles operate in a 4-car formation with a maximum capacity of 1,100 passengers.

The exterior of the trains is decorated with Turkish cultural elements such as tulip motifs. Over the past decade, CRRC ZELC has supplied more than 400 metro vehicles to Türkiye, which are now operating in its three largest cities, namely Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir.

The chairman of the board of the CRRC ZELC, said that his company is willing to strengthen cooperation with Türkiye and write new chapters of “shared growth through discussion and collaboration.”