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The Bosphorus, which divides Europe from Asia, has been a central feature of the city of Istanbul for 2,500 years. A spectacular tunnel beneath the strait is currently being built to bring the two continents even closer together. Our colleague Dr. Valentina Monaco from TÜV SÜD Rail is responsible for safety on the project.
Dr. Valentina Monaco’s working day begins when most people are going to sleep. At 15 minutes past midnight, the expert from TÜV SÜD Rail enters Üsküdar station on the Asian side of Istanbul. When the last metro train has left and the system closes down for the night, Dr. Monaco steps onto the track bed of the metro line and begins her nightly walk. “My most important tools are my legs and my head,” she says. For 13 years, Dr. Valentina Monaco has been head of the infrastructure department at TÜV SÜD Rail and is responsible for monitoring the safety of rail lines. She walks along the tracks taking note of every detail and looking for problems with the track bed such as loose fastenings, deformed rails or fire doors that don’t shut properly.
The site around Üsküdar station is the beginning of one of the most spectacular rail projects in recent decades: Marmaray, a 1.3-kilometer tunnel under the Bosphorus. TÜV SÜD has played an important role in this project of the century. On behalf of the Turkish railways, Dr. Monaco and her colleagues have inspected the entire metro system in the new rail tunnel beneath the strait. Over a period of several years, Dr. Monaco has moved her workplace from the Austrian town of Graz to the Marmara Sea. She is responsible for checking the plans produced by the engineering company and inspecting safety facilities such as the fire doors.
The inner city metro trains have been traveling through the 13.3-kilometer tunnel (including the connecting tunnel) since October 2013. During 2016, the tunnel will be approved for intercity rail traffic and the European side of Istanbul will be connected to the Turkish high-speed rail network. But there is still a lot to do beforehand. Over the next few months, Dr. Valentina Monaco will be regularly going into the tunnel, which is up to 63 meters under the Bosphorus, to inspect the tracks – section by section, with a flashlight, measuring tools and a camera.