INTERBERING TUNNEL PROJECT – LINKS RUSSIA TO ALASKA


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Interconnecting High Speed Railroad

There has been a lot of talk over the last several years about connecting Eurasia and the North American Continent. But recently China entered the picture stepping up the intensity. A round of discussions about this project occurred in 2007 when the Ministry of Economy endorsed the idea. The idea itself is not new and has been toyed with by Tsar Nicholas II. He dreamed about the connecting railway and tunnel back in 1905.  The renewed interest came from China in May of this year.

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The Undersea Tunnel

Crossing the Bering Strait between Russia and Alaska would require about 200 km (125 miles) of undersea tunnel, the paper said, citing Wang Mengshu, a railway expert at the Chinese Academy of Engineering.

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“Right now we’re already in discussions. Russia has already been thinking about this for many years,” Wang said.

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Nicknamed the “China-Russia-Canada-America” Line

The project – nicknamed the “China-Russia-Canada-America” line – would run for 13,000 km, about 3,000 km further than the Trans-Siberian Railway. The entire trip would take two days, with the train traveling at an average of 350 km/h (220 mph).

9781144732309On the other side of the pond the concept of an overland connection crossing the Bering Strait goes back before the 20th century. William Gilpin, first governor of the Colorado Territory, envisioned a vast “Cosmopolitan Railway” in 1890 linking the entire world via a series of railways. Two years later, Joseph Strauss, who went on to design over 400 bridges, including the Golden Gate Bridge, put forward the first proposal for a Bering Strait railroad bridge in his senior thesis. The project was presented to the government of the Russian Empire, but it was rejected

What it Will Take to Carry Out

Currently in Russia construction is underway for a 500-mile railway line stemming from the existing Trans-Siberian line to Yakutsk – costing £900 million and due for completion in 2013. The goal of the Russian government is to extend rail lines 2,360 miles to the north-eastern tip of Siberia by 2030. It is believed that the tunnel itself will take approximately 15 years to build.

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This would be an event like driving the Golden Spike

This would also require U.S. engineers to design and build a 800 kilometers (500 mi) railroad system in Alaska, linking the tunnel with the closest city of Nome (just 100 miles (160 km) from the strait) to other cities in Canada and onwards. There has been a project proposed to link Nome by the Alaskan State government to the rest of the continent at an approximate cost of 2.5 billion dollars. It will cost an estimated $5 million dollars per mile which so far has prevented its construction.

The rewards of such a project.

Quoting multiple sources:

The project could be used to export Russian oil, natural gas and electricity to the United States worth trillions of dollars.

Quoted from The New York Times:

The project is being promoted as an economic, not a political, project, said Viktor Razbegin, a deputy head of industrial research at the Ministry of Economic Development, in Russia.

The Times reported:

Engineers have said there is no technical reason the tunnel could not be completed and it could offer a cheaper way of shipping freight around the world,

Quoted from The New York Times:

According to Andrey Podderegin, an organizer for Megaprojects of the Russian East. The tunnel, he said, would tap “huge unused potential” in gold, coal and other riches in the Russian Arctic.

Quoted from Inhabitat:

The $65 billion project aims to feed North America with raw goods from the Siberian interior and beyond, but it could also provide a key link to developing a robust renewable energy transmission corridor that feeds wind and tidal power across vast distances while linking a railway network across 3/4 of the Northern Hemisphere.

Quoted from the Digital Journal:

The Bering Strait tunnel would be also be used for a high-speed railway line and to house a fiber-optic cable network between the countries.

Quoted from Railroad Pro:

Optimistic forecasts predict that the route would pay for itself within ten years. The possible payoff for this project is great. With a rail connection between the two continents, goods could be transported more efficiently than by air. Freight from China (also interested in the project) could easily be routed by train rather than sea shipments and Russia could ship its gas and oil to North America much easier.

Quoted from The Times Online.

“Russian officials insist that the tunnel is an economic idea whose time has now come and that it could be ready within ten years. They argue that it would repay construction costs by stimulating up to 100 million tons of freight traffic each year, as well as supplying oil, gas and electricity from Siberia to the US and Canada,” reported The Times Online.

The following video explains the project in more detail

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Sources:

 

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