China has announced an ambitious engineering plan to build a bullet train railway to America, state media reported Thursday.
The massive railway network, nicknamed "China-Russia-Canada-America," would run north from China, through Siberia and Russia, under the Pacific Ocean to Alaska, then down through Canada to the contiguous United States, The Guardian reports.
The trip from China to the contiguous U.S. would take less than two days, with trains traveling about 217 mph, according to The Beijing Times. China will reportedly fund the construction of the 8,079 miles of railway track, including a 125-mile underwater tunnel across the Bering Strait from Russia to Alaska.
But this may not be the best time for China to embark on such an epic undertaking, considering the country’s railway industry is in the red, as The Economic Times points out.
“China's railway sector is still being haunted by deep debts. Therefore, even with the government's support, it must persuade banks to lend a colossal amount of money," an unnamed expert from Beijing Jiaotong University told The Economic Times.
Aside from financial challenges, many are skeptical of whether the engineering required to build such a massive network is feasible.
According to The Guardian, “The Bering Strait tunnel alone would require an unprecedented feat of engineering – it would be the world's longest undersea tunnel – four times the length of the Channel Tunnel” connecting the United Kingdom and France.
China Daily claims that the technology needed to construct the undersea tunnel is already available. But even if it is, The Economist’s Gulliver business travel blog says the railway plan is simply not a realistic or necessary project.
“Languorous tourists might love it, just as they do the Orient Express or the Ghan train through the Australian Outback, and I suppose it might also carry some freight. But still, there is no practical case for it," the blog post's author writes. "Nonetheless, such ambition is to be admired in an abstract way.”
The Guardian notes that it is unclear whether China has consulted Russia, the U.S. or Canada about the project.