The Tunel is the oldest underground funicular in Istanbul. Funiculars are double railway wagons running on an inclined track. Both wagons are connected to operate under the counterweight principle. Many cars require very little electrical power to move on a steep slope.
The Tunel is the second oldest underground public transport system in the world, built after the underground public transport systems that entered service in London in 1863. It is a short, safe, and fast tunnel that connects Karakoy and Beyoglu, the old settlements of Istanbul.
At the end of the construction that started in 1871, the 573-meter Tunel line began to serve on January 17, 1875. It was designed by Eugène-Henri Gavand. Tunel, which was switched to the electrical system in 1910, was handed over to the IETT general directorate in 1939. It was completely renovated by a French company in 1970. Today, it reaches Galata and Beyoğlu in 90 seconds.
The story of the Tunel begins with the initiative of French engineer Eugene Henri Gavand. Gavand observes people constantly moving between Galata, the center of commerce and banking, and Pera, where the heart of social life beat, and thought of an alternative route to Yuksekkaldırım Slope and Galipdede Street. He appeared before the Ottoman Sultan Abdulaziz for an elevator-type railway project that would connect these two centers. On June 10, 1869, he received the Tunel construction concession. The Tunel, whose operating period was determined as 42 years, is built with a build-operate-transfer model.
After the animal-carrying trial runs in the Tunel, paid human transportation was started. The Tunel was put into service with a magnificent ceremony attended by a group of distinguished local and foreign guests.
The Tunel facilities were powered by two 150 horsepower steam engines. When the Tunel started the voyage, the wagons that are open on both sides were illuminated with gas lamps since there was no electricity.
The Tunel, which could not carry passengers for three and a half months because some materials could not be purchased during the Second World War, was renewed and electrified by the French Electro Enterprise company. The electrification works of Tunel started in 1968, and it was opened with a ceremony in its new form on November 2, 1971. Since that day, it has been serving the people of Istanbul and visitors for reaching from Karakoy to Beyoglu.