Undersea tunnels and high speed rail will bring people and freight to mostly 8 hours trips or less from Beijing within China

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.

Wang Mengshu, the rail expert, said all provincial capitals will be linked to Beijing via high-speed rail, and that travelling times will be reduced to eight hours, except on routes between Beijing, Urumqi and Lhasa.

Any two of these provincial capitals will also be linked by high speed rail, he added.

Wang pointed out the coastal railway stretching from northeast China via 11 provincial regions to south China’s Hainan province, covering a length of 5700 kilometres, as a crown achievement.

The coastal railway will traverse Bohai and Qiongzhou straits via an underwater channel. Once complete, it will become a main route for energy transportation, he added.

China is also mulling a railway that stretches from China to Singapore via Thailand and Malaysia

Two trans-continental routes are on the country’s rail agenda, too, with one from China’s Xinjiang that ends in Poland via Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus. The other will stretch through Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Iran and at last reach Germany, as a fast track to transport oil, Wang said.

High speed freight rail trains

China is considering high-speed freight trains to meet the growing demand for faster shipping in the world’s biggest e-commerce market.

The Daily Economic News reports that China Railway is setting its sights on two types of freight trains – super fast trains with a speed of 300 kilometers per hour that would compete with air cargos, and trains with a lower speed of 160 kilometers per hour to compete with road transport.

The faster freight trains may come out next year, and the slower ones are expected to start rolling sooner than that.

Experts say high-speed freight trains are likely to encroach on the business of cargo flights and road transportation, as trains are less affected by weather swings and traffic control.

Right now, most of the rail freights have to operate passenger trains, which have limited routes and frequency.

Earlier this year, China Railway kicked off an express delivery service and special freight trains for big courier companies. The high-speed freight trains will further satisfy China’s demand for faster freight shipping.

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