China already owns one of the most expansive and impressive high-speed rail networks in the world, and there are no signs of slowing. On the contrary, they are planning train lines that would connect entire continents.
Imagine a high-speed train that travels from mainland China, through Siberia in Eastern Russia, under the sea through the Bering Strait into Alaska, across the rocky peaks of Canada’s Yukon and British Columbia, to finally arrive into the USA. Well, that idea is one that China is considering seriously. Very seriously.
Once constructed, the 13,000-kilometer (8,078-mile) international bullet railway line could be further extended to reach into every corner of the US. OK, but at what price? A whopping $200 billion – a price tag even Elon Musk could hardly afford.
The plans emerged back in 2014, with different news outlets covering a report by the Beijing Times on the idea of building the 8,000-mile super train. The line would be called the “China-Russia-Canada-America” line (very original, right) and stretch across all those four nations, linking them for trade, tourism and, ultimately, an economic boom. For the crossing through the Bering Strait, it would require an underwater tunnel four times longer than the Channel Tunnel, and far more high-tech to boot, IFLScience reports.
When the plans first emerged, Chinese engineers claimed to be already in talks with Russia about constructing the line. They were very confident that the plan was feasible using current technology. And they were probably right, too.
China approved the world’s first underwater bullet train in 2018. It would extend through mainland China from Ningbo, a port city near Shanghai, to Zhoushan, an archipelago off the country’s coast. The railway line would employ Maglev trains that levitate above a magnetic track as they are propelled along at high speeds, and construction is already underway for the ambitious project. And the new route will include a 16.2-kilometer underwater section.
Of course, that tunnel will be significantly shorter than the Channel Tunnel, but since the addition of a bullet train passing through brings new challenges to the construction, it would be quite a feat to accomplish, too. And, according to many reports, the Ningbo-Zhoushan line could be a test run for the far larger project of the “China-Russia-Canada-America” line.
Apparently, the US might be a little further behind when it comes to major railway projects like this one. In 2020, the US Government approved a huge 2,570-kilometer (1,597-mile) railway line that connects the US and Canada, from Alaska to Alberta, costing $22 billion. Even those smaller numbers were a large leap for the US railway network, which has been lagging behind other nations.
Will the most expensive megaproject in world history materialize soon? Well, the project appears to have been put on hold for now, as presently flight and cargo ships are a cheaper option for trade. But since technology is developing at an unprecented pace, who knows what the future will bring?