After the Crimean War, the Ottoman authorities concluded that a railway connecting Europe with Istanbul was necessary. The first contract was signed with Labro, a British member of parliament, in January 1857.
The contract was cancelled three months later because Labro was unable to provide the investment capital required. Similar second and third contracts signed with British and Belgian entrepreneurs in 1860 and 1868 ended with the same result. On April 17, 1869, the concession for the "Rumeli Railroad" was awarded to Baron Maurice de Hirsch (Moritz Freiherr Hirsch auf Gereuth), a Bavaria-born banker from Belgium. The project foresaw a route from Istanbul via Edirne, Plovdiv and Sarajevo to the shore of the Sava River.
The construction of the first 15 km from Istanbul to Halkalı began on June 4, 1870 and was completed on January 4, 1871. An extension of the line to Sirkeci was demanded as the starting point since Yeşilköy was too far away from Eminönü, the main business district of that epoch. The first proposed option for the line was a route from Beyazit down to the shore of the Golden Horn.
The Ottoman Sultan Abdülaziz decided and permitted the route to run on the shoreline of the Sea of Marmara bordering the walls of Topkapı Palace’s lower garden. The extension line was completed on July 21, 1872. In 1873, a "temporary" terminus station in Sirkeci was built.