China plans 8000 mile high-speed rail link to USA
Reports have emerged that China could be considering plans to build a high-speed rail link that stretches as far as the US.
The world is getting smaller as new technologies and infrastructure are put in place. But it seems that one journey could become a reality that many had never considered – travelling from Beijing to the US without the aid of a ship or an aeroplane.
According to Beijing Times, Chinese officials are currently looking at plans for a massive high-speed rail link project that would begin in north-east China, then reach up through Siberia and through a 125-mile tunnel beneath the Bering Strait.
Once the train has emerged on the other side, it will travel down through Alaska and the western part of Canada, eventually reaching down to cities on the west coast of the US.
With more than 8,000 miles of track and trains potentially travelling as fast as 220 mph, the whole journey from China to the US would take two days. Though this might beg the question of why anyone would travel by train when a flight would be much quicker, China clearly has faith in the power of high-speed rail to connect the nation to the world.
Three other similar projects are currently under development. Digital Journal reports that one line would run from London through Europe before splitting in two, when one line would run through Siberia and the other would reach China through Kazakhstan.
Another will start in Western China through Uzbekistan, Iran and Turkey among others before finishing up in Germany; a third would run from south-west China to Singapore.
If it were to go ahead, the US route would demand some of the most significant feats of civil engineering ever seen – the Bering Strait tunnel alone would be the largest undersea tunnel in history, four times the length of the Channel Tunnel which connects the UK to France.
But the technology for the train itself appears promising. China has been experimenting with magnetic levitation (maglev) rail travel for some time, and the Shanghai Maglev Train is currently the fastest passenger train in the world.
Researchers at one university are even experimenting with vacuum tube technology, which would eliminate the speed restrictions caused by air resistance. Perhaps this kind of advance could cut that prohibitive journey time and make Beijing-San Francisco by rail a much more attractive prospect.
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