You Could Be Traveling Underwater Between Africa And Europe By 2030

It’s been 30 years since two workers, one French, one English, dug through an undersea wall and met for the first time in what would become the Channel Tunnel, linking continental Europe with the U.K. via a land route.

While the idea to do the same between Africa and Europe isn’t new, there is a new momentum that it could be done, linking both continents using a high-speed rail link, by 2030.

It’s a spectacular proposition for both tourists and business. The U.K.’s Independent reports that the plan could link the high-speed rail network of Spain with the Moroccan 200mph Al Boraq rail route that opened in 2018. It’s a journey that could take tourists from the Spanish capital, Madrid, south to Algeciras—crucially passing underneath the Strait of Gibraltar, a stretch of water measuring 17 miles—before passing through Tangier, Rabat and finally reaching Casablanca.

The idea first started in the 1970s, was seriously kicked around in the 1980s but then fell apart officially when the financial crisis hit. It was restarted by a $2.5 million feasibility study by the Spanish government in 2023, paid for by a share of European funding that explored EU economic recovery, post pandemic.

It’s believed the line might cost about $6.5 billion but the actual issues involved in such an engineering feat could complicate things, and not just financially, because at its deepest point, the Gibraltar Strait is 2,950ft (900m) deep and there is regular seismic activity on the Azores–Gibraltar geologic fault.

If possible, it makes sense though for tourism though. Morocco is by far one of the most visited countries by Europeans to Africa, party due to its proximity to European shores, and tourism brings in 9% of Morocco’s GDP. 2024 data by Statista shows that Morocco ranked in second place as the most visited African country for international arrivals in 2022 (behind Egypt, and ahead of Tunisia and South Africa) with 10.9 million arrivals.

It’s also currently a great destination for anyone looking for value—Lonely Planet named Morocco on its ‘Best In Travel’ list for 2024 because of how it’s found its place on the global surfing circuit, as well as naming its spectacular visitor attractions, such as Jebel Toubkal, North Africa’s tallest mountain, situated in Morocco’s High Atlas mountains and camel trekking across the Erg Chebbi dunes in the Merzouga Desert.

The Times names Morocco as one of the best value holiday destinations for 2024 listing Marrakesh as the cheapest all-inclusive destination outside Europe in 2023 and The Telegraph rates its excellent train network, advocating using beachside Agadir as a base to investigate the surrounding area for just $22 per day.

According to one report, up to 12.8 million passengers could use this train route each year and cargo trade between Africa and Europe might increase by up to 13 million tons.

Detractors of the Channel Tunnel claim that 30 years on, it hasn’t helped to bring the EU and the U.K. closer together, citing Brexit, but it has undeniably brought millions of tourists under the 22 miles of water under the English Channel—today it accounts for 25% of the value of goods traveling between France and England and since its inception, ‘the Chunnel’ has allowed 500 million people and more than 102 million vehicles to travel through it.

One additional factor would be that this African-European underwater rail route would allow sports enthusiasts to go to the 2030 FIFA Soccer World Cup using the train between all three host nations, Portugal, Spain and Morocco, in a quicker and much more environmentally-friendly way.

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