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The Tünel is a short subway line in Istanbul, Turkey. It is an underground funicular with only two stations, and a uphill track of approximately 573 meters. The Tünel is the second-oldest subway line in the world, after the London Underground.

The Tünel was opened in January 17 1875 to provide an easy ride between the two neighborhoods of Pera and Galata, both in the new district of Istanbul on the hill north of the Golden Horn. Many people used to work in the low Galata, and live uphill in Pera. The Tünel, climbing about 60 meters, saved them this difficult walk.

Galata and Pera are now called Karaköy, and Beyoğlu, respectively. The lower station is named Karaköy, and the upper station Tünel Meydani - Tünel Square (located on the lower end of Istiklal Avenue). A trip between the two stations now takes 1.5 minutes, with an extra two minutes of waiting between operations to allow passengers to board the train. The Tünel has just one train of two steel cars with pneumatic tires, and its cruising speed is roughly 25 km/h.

Today, the tiny Tünel is rarely useful for most of Istanbul's population. A larger (but separate) metro system is available, and other public transportation options include buses, cabs, and even a cable car.

History

The Tünel was originally conceived by the French engineer Henri Gavand in 1867. Two years later, in November 6 1869, he received permission from the Ottoman sultan Abd-ul-Aziz to start the project. After finding foreign funding, construction began in July 30 1871 and ended in December 1874. The Tünel was finally opened for service in January 17 1875.

When it opened, the Tünel was powered by horses. The line began being powered by electricity in 1910. The Tünel was nationalized in 1939 to became part of the new IETT (İstanbul Elektrik Tramvay ve Tünel) transportation organization. In 1971, the Tünel was renovated and modernized, and the original wooden cars were replaced by metal ones.

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