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.
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.