By Elton Gomes
The Eurostar is a high-speed passenger train that links London and Paris. What’s unique about the Eurostar is that it runs under water from London’s St. Pancras to Gare du Nord in Paris. A similar underwater rail network, propelled by magnetic repulsion system, could connect the UAE (United Arab Emirates) and Mumbai.
The idea was proposed by Abdulla Alshehhi, managing director and chief consultant at National Advisor Bureau Limited. The National Advisor Bureau Limited is a consultancy firm based in Masdar, Abu Dhabi.
Speaking at the India-UAE Strategic Conclave 2018 in Abu Dhabi, Alshehhi said that the 2,000 km undersea rail network will not only transport passengers, but will also look to transport oil and other goods. Alshehhi noted that the floating underwater network will benefit the UAE, India, and other areas in the region.
What is being planned?
Alshehhi did not elaborate upon the project, but said that it would aid bilateral trade. “This is a concept. We plan to connect Indian city of Mumbai with Fujairah through ultra-speed floating trains. The project aims to boost bilateral trade. There will be export of oil to India from Fujairah port and import of excess water from Narmada River, north of Mumbai. In addition, other GCC partners can also improve export and import,” he said, Khaleej Times reported.
Calling it a concept, Alshehhi added that the project would take shape after important factors, including feasibility, are taken into account. “We will do feasibility study of the project. This is concept [sic] but a cool project to look at.” Alshehhi said, as per the Khaleej Times report.
What are underwater floating trains?
Floating trains, also known as maglev (magnetic levitation) trains, use magnet repulsion system so that the train can move at a greater speed, taking advantage of the lack of friction.
Such trains are currently being developed in China and Japan, and countries such as Australia, US, Israel, and UK also have plans to introduce the system.
Other connectivity projects
The proposed Mumbai-UAE underwater rail line is not the first time such an idea has been floated. Recent reports mention that the Chinese government has approved a project to build the first underwater bullet train route in the country.
The rail line will connect Ningbo, a port city south of Shanghai, to Zhoushan, an archipelago off the east coast. The proposed underwater tunnel will be part of the 77 km Yong-Zhou Railway plan that aims to boost tourism and create a two hour commute zone within Zhejiang province.
Within the 77 km railway route, almost 70.92 km of tracks will be newly built, including a 16.2 km undersea section. After completion, travellers from Hangzhou, the capital city of Zhejiang, will be able to reach Zhoushan within in 80 minutes.
In a separate instance, Chinese Consul General in Kolkata, Ma Zhanwu, said that his country is planning a bullet train service between Kunming and Kolkata. The proposed service would also pass through other neighbouring countries such as Myanmar and Bangladesh.
Additionally, China is also planning to build a 180 km long high-speed railroad linking Suifenhe in southeastern Heilongjiang province with Russia’s Vladivostok in the far east.
The project is said to be worth $ 7 billion, according to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yury Trutnev, who is the presidential envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District. Though several issues remain unresolved on the Russian side, Trutnev said that a Chinese company has almost completed a feasibility study.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius.