BEIJING, Feb. 14 (Xinhua) -- China is planning to build the world's longest underwater tunnel beneath the Bohai Sea by 2026, according to a Friday report in the China Daily
A blueprint of the tunnel, which could cost an estimated 220 billion yuan (36 billion U.S. dollars), will be submitted to the State Counicl, China's Cabinet, in April, it said.
"Once approved, work could begin as early as 2015 or 2016," Wang Mengshu, a tunnel and railway expert at the Chinese Academy of Engineering who has worked on the plan since 2012, was quoted as saying by the paper.
By length, it will surpass the combined length of the world's two longest underwater tunnels - Japan's Seikan Tunnel and the Channel Tunnel between Britain and France.
The 123-kilometer tunnel will house a rail line connecting the port cities of Dalian in Liaoning province and Yantai in Shandong province, according to the plan.
"Using the tunnel, it will take only 40 minutes to travel from Dalian to Yantai," Wang said. At the moment it is a 1,400-km drive or about eight hours by ferry.
Passenger vehicles can be loaded onto rail carriages and transported at about 220 kilometers per hour, massively shortening the travel time between the two cities.