China is considering building a bullet train that not only makes a trans-Siberian crossing but also crosses the Bering Strait to Alaska, passes through Canada, and has its final stop in the United States. Yes, the United States.
Quartz reported May 10 that the project may be a bit too ambitious, even for a nation that seems to be in love with their railway system and other massive infrastructure programs. For example, China already has the largest bullet train railway system in the world with over 6,000 miles of rails. They're looking to nearly double that number by 2015.
And while they push to connect their own country by rail, a railway expert at the Chinese Academy of Engineering told the Beijing Times that there have been discussions about a project that would connect China to Russia, Canada, and the U. S. -- nearly 8,100 miles of high-speed railroad. The extensive rail line would include a 125-mile tunnel beneath the Bering Strait to connect Russia with Alaska.
The most daunting problem, according to Lily Kuo at Quartz, would be cost. The massive international project would cost upwards of $200 billion. China's current railway budget is $300 billion per year.
Still, $200 billion spread out over, say, a five-year period would only increase said budget by $40 billion per year.
The Bering Strait tunnel alone would cost roughly $52 billion. (China is already building a 76-mile tunnel under the Bohai Sea, a tunnel that is longer than the two longest tunnels -- the English Channel Tunnel and Japan's Seikan Tunnel -- on the planet combined.) The rest of the overland rail system will cost an estimated $172 more.
It is unclear what such a project might do for relations between all the nations involved, but one thing is clear: A bullet train connecting China to America would offer a traveling alternative for those averse to flying and/or sailing. China's bullet trains, according to TravelChinaGuide.com, exceed 125 miles per hour. In short, the high-speed trains can cover 1,250 miles in 8 hours, or nearly the same distance between Seattle, Wash., and San Diego, Calif.
But if a China-America bullet train isn't to be, engineers in China are also talking about building a tunnel from mainland China to Taiwan, a distance twice that of the English Channel tunnel that connect France to the United Kingdom.
You have to hand it to the Chinese -- massive infrastructural projects do not intimidate them. By contrast, the United States has yet to complete its first bullet train line. California broke ground on a 800-mile high-speed railway connecting Los Angeles to San Francisco in October 2011. It is expected to be complete by 2017.
As noted, by then China will have nearly 12,000 miles of high-speed railway.