China green lights first underwater high-speed railway

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There's no slowing China's high-speed rail ambitions.

(CNN) — There’s no slowing China’s high-speed rail ambitions.

Beijing has just green lighted a project to build the country’s first underwater bullet train route.

The line will connect Ningbo, a port city south of Shanghai, to Zhoushan, an archipelago off the east coast.

The proposed underwater tunnel will be a part of the 77-kilometer Yong-Zhou Railway plan (Yong is the nickname of Ningbo) to boost tourism and create a two-hour-commute zone within China’s Zhejiang Province.

First mentioned in a government transportation plan in 2005, the feasibility study of the Yong-Zhou Railway plan was approved by Beijing in November.

Within the 77 km (47.8 miles) railway route, some 70.92 km of tracks will be newly built, including a 16.2 km undersea section.

Line to significantly shorten journey

When completed, the Yong-Zhou Railway will connect Ningbo East Station and Zhoushan (Baiquan) Station by high-speed trains that hit a maximum speed of 250 kilometers per hour.

The new route, connecting to the existing vast high-speed rail network in China, will transport travelers from Hangzhou — capital city of Zhejiang — to Zhoushan in 80 minutes.

The current journey takes about 4.5 hours by bus or a 2.5-hour drive by personal vehicle.

Seven stations are planned for the entire route, including four new stations and three redeveloped ones.

In addition to the undersea tunnel, a road-rail bridge will be built to link parts of the archipelago.

Easy access to Boeing’s new China factory

With a price tag of RMB 25.2 billion (or $3.6 billion), the project is expected to begin next year and is due for completion in 2025.

Zhoushan, some three hours’ drive south of Shanghai, is still relatively under-the-radar among international tourists.

But in terms of business, it’s one of the most noteworthy new state-level areas (or special economic-development zones designated by the Beijing government) in China.

Ningbo-Zhoushan Port is the busiest in the world in terms of cargo throughput.

Zhoushan is also home to American aircraft maker Boeing’s first overseas factory, which is due to begin operations in December 2018.

But what’s there for regular tourists?

The Zhoushan Archipelago’s Shengsi Islands, officially declared a National Scenic Area in China, have recently been making the rounds on the internet thanks to a series of wild photos of the eerie but stunning abandoned fisherman village of Houtouwan.

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