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China to Taiwan rail tunnel “possible by 2030”

Construction of a 150km long undersea rail tunnel between China and Taiwan is technically feasible and could be achieved by 2030, if political issues can be resolved, according to tunnelling experts.

The Chinese Academy of Engineering completed an outline design last year and technical analysis of the design by Chinese tunnelling specialists has now concluded that delivery of the rail connection is possible.

The project was first mooted in 2016 but the latest design is longer starting from Pingtan in Fujian province and would reach depths of 200m before emerging at Hsinchu near Taipei. The route includes boring through granite and navigating two major earthquake faults.

The design involves using twin 10m diameter tunnels, which is larger than the Channel Tunnel that currently holds the title as the longest undersea tunnel at 37.9km.

Nonetheless, the political tensions between China and Taiwan remain an issue. According to Tongji University head of tunnelling and underground structure research Zhu Hehua, starting work on the strait tunnel on the mainland would likely be a symbolic “one-sided” move to signal Beijing’s determination to achieve unification with Taiwan.

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