China wants to build an underwater train that reaches the USA

13 thousand kilometers in total length, the work will have to cross the Bering Sea. China wants to build an underwater train that will reach the U.S.

The project of a 13-thousand-kilometer-long railway line, which from the country should reach Russia via Siberia, then Canada and, from there, the United States, has been born in China.

Those who are familiar with maps will have already guessed the challenge facing the engineers of the former Celestial Empire: between Cape Dezhneyev, the easternmost point of the Asian continent, and Cape Prince of Wales, the westernmost point of the American continent, there is the Bering Strait: eighty-three kilometers of sea (also called "Bering") that the visionary Chinese infrastructure will have to cross.

What is the submarine train project that China wants to bring to the U.S.

The idea made headlines in 2014, when several newspapers reported on a Beijing Times report on the China-Russia-Canada-America line, a truly unoriginal and rather didactic name for the route of the high-speed train that, in the plans of the People's Republic, was supposed to reach the United States.

The cost of the project has been estimated at 200 billion dollars, not exactly peanuts but certainly an allocation more manoeuvrable by an authoritarian regime, more efficient in diverting large sums of money towards colossal infrastructures.

The chapter on the underwater tunnel that should be the viaticum for a high speed train, is certainly the most fascinating, and represents a real engineering challenge. Yes, because underwater channels for trains have not been built many until now. And certainly none so long as to act as a trait d'union between the Western and Eastern worlds, connecting two continents.

There are already a few underwater trains in the world: here are the ones

An example dating back to 1987 (when work began) is the Channel Tunnel, or Eurotunnel, a railway tunnel over 50 km long that connects the UK town of Cheriton, in Kent to the French town of Coquelles, near Calais, passing under the bottom of the English Channel.

China itself can boast of a similar work, but with a big advantage. It stretches from Ningbo, a port city near Shanghai, to Zhoushan, an archipelago of islands off the east coast. With a total length of 77 kilometers, this railway runs 16.2 kilometers below sea level. And in 2018 it was the first in the world suitable for a high-speed train.

Despite its track record, it seems that the China-Russia-Canada-America line has not met with much favor at home: among critics, there are those who argue that the project is too expensive and on balance not even very useful for trade, which already can benefit from air or submarine carriers. On the other hand, it would require a tunnel four times larger than the Eurotunnel, technologically more advanced and much longer.

All in all, then, it could be just another sign of China challenging the rest of the world in terms of technology. It's not the first time it happens: for example, just from the East arrives the super-camera for the smartphone or the promise of an endless battery.

Giuseppe Giordano