The governments of China, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Russia have approved a $6bn project to build a transcontinental toll motorway between Shanghai and Hamburg. Work is expected to begin this year and be complete by 2019, according to a report published in World Highways.
Maxim Sokolov, Russia’s minister of transport, said the road will be called the Meridian Highway. He said drivers would be able to maintain an average speed of 110km/h on its four lanes, and would be able to make the trip between the coasts of the Pacific Ocean and North Sea in about 11 days.
The overall length of the road would be 8,445km, making it the third longest ever built, after Australia’s 14,500km Highway 1 and the 11,000km Trans-Siberian Highway.
Funding for the project is expected to come from a mix of public and private sources. The Chinese government and the country’s private investors are thought to have earmarked $4bn in funding for the project.
Tolls will be paid by hauliers who are registered in countries that are not members of the Eurasian Economic Union, which includes former Soviet states such as Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan.
The payback period for the project will be around 20 years.
The idea for building a modern, four-lane motorway between China and Europe was put forward by the European Commission in 2005. It is now being put forward as another way of increasing the velocity of trade between China and Europe, and stimulating economic activity along its length.
According to the European Conference of Ministers of Transport, the volume of trade between European and Asian has grown by a factor of six in the last 20 years; the value of good exchanged between the EU and China reached €467bn in 2014.
According to calculations by the Russian Ministry of Transport cargo transportations between the two continents will not exceed 11 days, compared with 45 days for sea transport. Although container ships are much cheaper than trucks, road transport may be used for high-value industrial products and perishable goods.
The new road will have intersections with the Suez Canal and the Northern Sea Route, as well as the Trans-Siberian Railway.
Image: Shanghai: only 11 days’ drive from Hamburg (Gensler)
- Edited on 19th April to change the Baltic to North Sea, thank you for your comments.