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

The construction of an undersea high-speed railway across China’s Bohai Strait is “likely” to start in 2016, according to local Chinese media.

The Guangdong-based 21st Century Business Herald said the rail link, connecting Dalian in the south of Liaoning province with the Shandong province city of Yantai, will cover an estimated 123km - 90km of it beneath the sea bed - to become the world’s longest undersea tunnel.

Bohai tunnel map

Route of the planned Bohai Strait rail tunnel.

The world’s longest undersea railway tunnel is currently Japan’s Seikan Tunnel (53.9km), which connects Honshu and Hokkaido, when on-land sections of the tunnel are included. Europe’s Channel Tunnel (37.9km) has a longer undersea portion.

Wang Mengshu from the Chinese Academy of Engineering told the Herald the project will cost 200bn yuan (£19bn) and take about 10 years.

“It will reduce travel time across Bohai Bay to 40 minutes,” Mengshu said. Currently, it takes eight hours by ferry, or involves a road trip of 1,400km around the coast.

Menghsu said the project has been assessed and has been proved technically feasible.

China’s State Council issued a regional development guideline earlier this week, to accelerate preliminary work on the project.

The scheme aims to improve links to three north-eastern provinces, a traditional industrial base of China.

Once complete, the tunnel will join a coastal rail network in eastern China stretching from Harbin in Heilongjiang province to Shenzhen in Guangdong province.

A railway from China’s Heilongjiang province to Russia and Mongolia will also be placed under consideration, according to the state council guideline.

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