China likely to start world’s longest undersea rail tunnel in 2016

Construction of an extraordinary underwater high-speed rail tunnel in China’s Bohai Strait is likely to start some time after 2016, Chinese media report.

The proposed undersea link would stretch more than 100km under Bohai Bay to become the world’s longest undersea tunnel, connecting the cities of Dalian and Yantai. 

Experts say it will put the two cities within a 40-minute train ride of each other, where now a ferry-ride takes eight hours, while driving around Bohai Bay is a 1,400km road trip.

The English-language China News Service (ECNS) reported that the project was included in a guideline, issued last week by China’s State Council, on rejuvenating the country’s three northeastern provinces, which comprise China’s traditional industrial heartland.

ECNS said [ ] the tunnel could start during the 13th Five Year Plan, which runs from 2016 to 2020.

Wang Mengshu, an academic at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, told Guangdong-based 21st Century Business Herald that the project will cost $32bn and take about 10 years to build.

It would be part of an east-coast rail network stretching from Harbin in Heilongjiang province to Shenzhen in Guangdong province, said Zhang Jiangyu, of China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), ECNS reported.

The Bohai Tunnel has been proposed before. China Daily reported that NDRC started researching its feasibility last November after the proposal had been submitted for the fifth time.

It has also been used as a bargaining tool. In June this year China offered to allow British firms a role in building the tunnel in return for granting Chinese contractors a part in building the UK’s planned high-speed rail network, HS2, and its new generation of nuclear power stations.

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