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China Plans 8,000-Mile High-Speed MagLev Railway Linking Beijing to US East Coast

China Railways CRH5 at Qinhuangdao Railway Station (Wikipedia)

China Railways CRH5 at Qinhuangdao Railway Station (Wikipedia)

China is considering a plan to build an 8,000-mile (13,000-km) high-speed magnetic levitation railway from Beijing to the eastern seaboard of the United States.

The state-owned Beijing Times reports the rail line would begin in Beijing and run northeastward through Siberia, Russia before tunneling through the Bering Strait into Alaska and then proceeding in a southeasterly direction across Canada and into the northeastern United States.

The trip would take approximately two days at an average speed of 220 miles per hour (354 km/h), and it would require the digging of a 125-mile (200-km) undersea tunnel to cross the Bering Strait between Russia and Alaska. That’s four times the length of the Channel Tunnel linking Britain and France.

If completed, the “China-Russia-Canada-America” line would feature the world’s longest undersea tunnel.

“Right now we’re already in discussions. Russia has already been thinking about this for many years,” Wang Menshu, a railway expert at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, told the Beijing Times.

China is already believed to possess the ability to build such a long tunnel, with a $67 billion underwater high-speed rail line connecting the southeastern port city of Fujian with Taiwan having already been approved by China’s State Council. Taiwan lies 112 miles (180 km) off the coast of mainland China.

Wang outlined other ambitious plans for long-distance, high-speed rail lines connecting China with the world. Among the proposed projects are high-speed lines linking China with Turkey, Germany, Russia, France and even Britain.

China now has the world’s most extensive high-speed rail network, with more than 6,200 miles (10,000 km) of routes in service as of December 2012. The 1,428-mile (2,298-km)  Beijing–Guangzhou High-Speed Railway is the world’s single-longest high-speed rail line. Daily ridership on Chinese high-speed trains has increased from 230,000 when the first line opened in 2007 to 1.33 million in 2012.

By contrast, the United States lags significantly behind China, as well as the larger most-developed nations of Europe and Asia, in high-speed rail development. There are currently no US trains that exceed 150 miles per hour (241 km/h) during operational travel, while China, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Russia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and even Turkey operate trains that travel in excess of that speed.

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