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Russia Approves Siberia-Alaska Railway

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the just-keep-the-bears-off-it dept.

Transportation 449

An anonymous reader writes "In what could easily be one of the boldest infrastructure developments ever announced, the Russian Government has given the go-ahead to build a transcontinental railway linking Siberia with North America. The massive undertaking would traverse the Bering Strait with the world's longest tunnel – a project twice the length of the Chunnel between England and France. The 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."

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449 comments

But what... (4, Insightful)

MischaNix (2163648) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185050)

do I watch instead of Ice Road Truckers?

Re:But what... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37185138)

Anything less gay?

Re:But what... (3, Funny)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185410)

Sarah Palin's house?

Re:But what... (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185552)

Undersea Engineers.

The Palin/Putin Connector (1)

Keith Curtis (923118) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185060)

Can't wait until I can drive from Vancouver to Moscow.

Re:The Palin/Putin Connector (4, Insightful)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185262)

That would be cool as hell, but damn... you'd better be single.

I say this because when you're single, long road trips are liberating, exciting, and just plain damned fun. Marriage and kids turn that idea into a grueling endurance run, complete with large numbers of restroom, tourist-trap, and restaurant stops.

Then again, Siberia would be an excellent place to hide a body, no?

Re:The Palin/Putin Connector (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185402)

Then again, Siberia would be an excellent place to hide a body, no?

Nah, it's hard to dig permafrost, and bodies end up preserved pretty well otherwise.

Re:The Palin/Putin Connector (1)

AsmCoder8088 (745645) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185572)

Then again, Siberia would be an excellent place to hide a body, no?

Hans Reiser, is that you?

Re:The Palin/Putin Connector (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185282)

I can't wait until I can take a train from Moscow to Moscow.

If they can pull this off, I think it would be amazing. What I'm wondering about is how far they're going to have to go. The last time I took the train we ended up spending the night just outside Havre, MT, because the train wasn't able to handle the cold. Granted it would have been a different story had it been properly winterized, but still, given how much nothing there is out there during winter.

Far out (1)

scuzzlebutt (517123) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185092)

A $65 Billion rail tunnel. I can dig it.

Re:Far out (1)

k6mfw (1182893) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185118)

nice tag lines

So - Discovery Channel time? (2)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185096)

Didn't the Discovery Channel have an Extreme Engineering episode covering such a thing, like, 10 years ago?

If that's the case, I cannot frickin' wait to see the mile-high tower/city complex in Tokyo.

One question, though... who the hell is footing the bill for this thing, and what is the expected ROI timeline?

Re:So - Discovery Channel time? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185290)

This is an easier project, assuming that they choose a sensible design. The main issue is going to be cost, but if they're able to do it for $65bn then they shouldn't have too much trouble paying it back over time. Between freight and passengers I'd be shocked if in the long run it didn't end up paying for itself.

Re:So - Discovery Channel time? (1)

baegucb (18706) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185514)

A sensible design should also consider earthquake safety. I'm not sure if that's possible.

Russian Railroads vs. California (3, Informative)

billstewart (78916) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185528)

California's high-speed rail project didn't involve any radical engineering like building a tunnel under the Bering Straits or building railroads across frozen parts of Alaska, just a simple system upgrade from San Francisco to Los Angeles and San Diego along existing rights of way, and the price has already gone from the $30B low-ball price sold to the voters ($10B in bonds and $20B in magic money falling from the sky) to somewhere around $40-50B.

There are other differences - it's possible that this is being proposed for the purposes of actually building a railroad and shipping goods on it rather than for spending money and paying off every rich community along the way, by I'm skeptical about claims that you can build a tunnel under the Bering Straits for less than you can build a surface railroad from LA to Bakersfield, or that Russian corruption is any less than the polite Californian version.

Russia approves? (1)

k6mfw (1182893) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185102)

I thought they were more broke than we are (perhaps it is indeed the other way around for USA, USSR went broke after nearly 10 years in Afghanistan). This railway looks like a interesting challenge in civil engineering and in some ways, I'd like to see it built. Hope this is not a bunch grandstanding and PPT documents. Disclaimer: I did not RTFA.

Re:Russia approves? (2, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185194)

Increasing trade grows the economy and increases revenue. You really do have to spend money to make money.

Re:Russia approves? (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185204)

An actual direct-rail transport corridor from East Asia to the Americas would pay for itself. It would be costly up front, but as a transport corridor it would basically be akin to how opening up the North American frontier to rail created a whole series of economic opportunities.

Re:Russia approves? (1)

gatkinso (15975) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185228)

They discovered a bunch of oil and are rich now.

Well, a few Russians are rich.

Re:Russia approves? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37185376)

Just like the U S!

lol.

Anti-nuke sentiment a boon for Russia (1)

drnb (2434720) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185278)

As western Europe shuts down their nuclear reactors they become more dependent upon Russian fossil fuels. Russia has made a lot of money off of energy exports and is likely to see this increase.

Re:Anti-nuke sentiment a boon for Russia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37185398)

The prices would be even higher if they weren't in the energy market. Then again, if they weren't then the EU would have searched for other options instead of imports.

Re:Russia approves? (2)

currently_awake (1248758) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185304)

Russia exports oil, US imports oil. Sky high oil prices (courtesy of peak oil) mean lots of money coming in to pay for this. As for selling the oil to china, that's the point. Selling Alaska oil to china will pay more once the US defaults.

Re:Russia approves? (2, Informative)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185460)

I thought they were more broke than we are

Russian external public debt is 3% of the country's GDP - in fact, it's one of the countries with the lowest [wikipedia.org] corresponding ratio in the world. And it has a fair bit of money in absolute measures, mostly from trade of abundant natural resources such as oil and gas.

I can't wait . . . (3, Funny)

StefanJ (88986) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185108)

. . . to see bearded guys in furs hanging around in Penn Station, waiting for the track announcement for the train to Moscow (first stop Secaucus Junction, of course).

Re:I can't wait . . . (3, Interesting)

TWX (665546) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185426)

On a serious note, the Standard Gauge of 4 ft 8 12 in that North America uses is narrower than the old Soviet 4 ft 11 56 in gauge in Russia and many of the former Soviet bloc states. Negotiations between the US, Russia, and Canada to a lesser extent would have to happen to determine which gauge would be used, or if an attempt for dual-gauge (probably requiring four rails due to the closeness of the two gauges) would be made. It would potentially be an option to use bogies capable of being adjusted between the two gauges as well.

It would be pretty kick ass to be able to take the train all of the way from Boston to London, by way of Canada, the US, Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Germany, Belgium, and France...

The Family That Trades Together... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37185120)

Damn that Putin - always spoiling the prospects for global thermonuclear anihilation

Emperor Phaeton approves (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37185136)

He wanted to go for a suspension bridge and a maglev train, but he can support the puny humans building a tunnel instead, however his Neo-Lords can just fly across on their own, so he scoffs at their pitiful ways.

Re:Emperor Phaeton approves (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37185522)

Exo-Squad FTW :) Bring back the ExoSquad Memes!

Awesome (1)

mozumder (178398) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185150)

The US really does need a high-speed freight transportation system with Asia. Right now, shipping to China can take weeks for heavy freight. It really needs to come down to days, maybe even 1 day if we can get a nice 300mph system.

Should be far more energy efficient (->cheaper) than boat as well.

Re:Awesome (2)

Cornwallis (1188489) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185184)

Once they build it maybe they can take a detour through Nepal to pick up some Sherpas to carry the freight throughout the United States because they're about the only ones who'd be able to traverse our rapidly decaying road system!

Re:Awesome (2, Informative)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185294)

Do you know how I know you've never driven to Alaska? Because you think a 300 mph train would work across northern Canada, Alaska and the Russian Far East.

Re:Awesome (1)

currently_awake (1248758) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185338)

You don't ship cargo by high speed rail (costs more), and shipping is cheaper than anything but pipelines. However rail can be electric meaning no oil needed. You can't run a cargo ship off solar. I expect the tourism from europe will be the biggest draw, with russia getting a nice cut of each ticket price.

Re:Awesome (1)

fnj (64210) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185342)

For freight, ships and (conventional moderate speed) rail are both so far beyond anything else in transportation efficiency (tonne-km/l) that nothing else is even close. They are both at least ten times more efficient than trucks, and even further ahead of aircraft.

OTOH, high speed rail and ships are not really compatible with high volume freight.

Total Nonstarter in the US. (4, Interesting)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185152)

#1 It involves Russia. There are too many people who will be worried about pinko-commies invading the American Heartland.
#2 it involves rail. Yes, freight-rail primarily, which has some presence in the US. But there's no way that the US will build the kind of rail network that will link a tunnel on the far-western side of Alaska with the rest of the US in order to import Russian goods.
#3 It will cost money. Considering that our lovely congress-critters are willing to blow up the US over money that has already been spent on previously approved projects, I can't see how the US government will spend even a penny on this completely pie-in-the-sky project.
#4 It requires significant infrastructure projects in Alaska to link a tunnel ending at an uninhabited point in Alaska with places that can actually use all the stuff coming through. Not gonna happen, for the reasons listed above.

Nice dream, but not gonna happen. Even (I would say especially) if Russia funds the entire cost of the tunnel.

Re:Total Nonstarter in the US. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37185182)

Wal-Mart will fund it with pocket change and their savings on shipping shit from China.

Re:Total Nonstarter in the US. (3, Insightful)

Dr. Spork (142693) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185386)

I doubt that this would make shipping cheaper than it is now. In fact, I expect it to be far more expensive than the current cargo ships. One big difference is that it will be a lot faster and it will route around the unionized dock workers. Regarding speed and tonnage capacity, a lot depends on the rest of the North American railway net, which would need serious upgrading to accommodate all the new cargo. As it stands now, the idea of building a railroad link between Alaska and Canada is being "studied". (link [alaskacanadarail.com] ) So long as that remains, this would be the ultimate tunnel to nowhere.

Re:Total Nonstarter in the US. (2)

mozumder (178398) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185220)

The libertarian/conservative philosophy is dying off. Everyone's going Big Government with Big Spending Projects these days.

Meanwhile, the REAL reason it's going to happen is because import businesses want it. I actually import goods from China/India, and it takes weeks to deliver. Eliminating this shipping time is absolutely key in a competitive environment.

The days of "Hard-Working-Corporations-Can-Solve-All-Our-Problems" are over.

It is now time for government to solve all our problems.

Re:Total Nonstarter in the US. (1)

Spleenl3oy (613303) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185378)

Your post is a complete contradiction. First you say "the REAL reason it's going to happen is because import businesses want it. I actually import goods from China/India, and it takes weeks to deliver. Eliminating this shipping time is absolutely key in a competitive environment."

Then you say, 'The days of 'Hard-Working-Corporations-Can-Solve-All-Our-Problems' are over. It is now time for government to solve all our problems."

Which is it? If you want it so bad for your company, you should pay for it. If it is such a good deal, someone with capitol will pony up the money and be raking it in from all of the people like you who want faster shipping times.

Re:Total Nonstarter in the US. (1)

mozumder (178398) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185420)

Which is it? If you want it so bad for your company, you should pay for it.

Uh no.

Government pays for things that benefits me. It is why I support government.

It is the purpose of government, to make everyone richer.

Government does not exist to serve no one. It is not a theoretical abstract concept. It actually DOES serve a tangible purpose ("immediate services for me me me"), not a theoretical one ("government allows you to benefit through your own free will").

Again, I repeat, the purpose of government is to provide tangible benefits, not theoretical ones.

Re:Total Nonstarter in the US. (2)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185414)

The libertarian/conservative philosophy is dying off. Everyone's going Big Government with Big Spending Projects these days.

Kind of hard when you don't have the Big Money to spend.

Re:Total Nonstarter in the US. (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185224)

But it wouldn't just be Russian markets opening up. It would be opening up East Asia entirely. I wouldn't be surprised at the end of the day if you didn't see China throwing money at something like this.

Depends on how it's sold. (1)

dtmos (447842) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185240)

Look, a jobs program!

And paid for by someone else!

Re:Total Nonstarter in the US. (1)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185252)

#1 The nineteen fifties called it would like it's pinko commies back. Seriously talk to any I know and all they really think about when you say Russia is hot mail order brides and vodka. Which you could get over rail if this tunnel works out. #2 How much new rail would actually have to be constructed though? #3 It's gonna cost less than all these stupid wars, I plan to write congress if this doesn't get the green light. How ever I'm not sure who is mainly paying for this it says it's a mix of public and private and it seems the Russians will be paying for a large bit. #4 Not so much and I'm sure there will be a lot of pressure by the residence of Alaska to see this happen. an intercontinental train system means traffic and goods and people and all that means jobs and you can bet even Alaskian residents know that.

Re:Total Nonstarter in the US. (2)

mozumder (178398) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185276)

I plan to write congress if this doesn't get the green light.

Every corporation in America is going to want this, from individual importers/exporters to Wal Mart.

This is inevitable due to globalization.

Re:Total Nonstarter in the US. (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185302)

Not just every major importer/exporter in the Americas, you'll have manufacturers in Asia salivating over the thought of a rail route. Besides, it would just be way cool to buy a train ticket from, say, New York to Beijing.

Re:Total Nonstarter in the US. (-1)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185326)

New York to London would be awesome as well, maybe pick up a hot Russian chick to join you along the way. I do love me some foreign accents.

Re:Total Nonstarter in the US. (2)

currently_awake (1248758) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185396)

#1 It involves jobs during an recession, #2 Alaska has oil money to pay for this. #3 Greedy Americans can be shown pictures of all the valuable things they can buy/sell, and it's just down the road from here. #4 You can offshore the remains of your economy to Russia. #5 A rail line will make it cheaper to bring in Chinese than Mexicans.

Re:Total Nonstarter in the US. (1)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185406)

#3 It will cost money.

Besides the fact that this news is breaking on slashdot (which should be a huge red flag), I would suspect the chinese (and a huge chunk of Asia) would be willing to bankroll this, especially if it was designed so that they could ship 300' wind power blades through the tunnel. This would be like the Alameda-Weehawken Burrito Tunnel, except on a grander scale: http://www.idlewords.com/2007/04/the_alameda-weehawken_burrito_tunnel.htm [idlewords.com]

Re:Total Nonstarter in the US. (3, Informative)

slater.jay (1839748) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185412)

#4.5 It requires massive, incredible infrastructure projects in Russia. The nearest *paved road* to the Bering Strait is 1200 miles away. The nearest rail head is 2000 miles away.

Re:Total Nonstarter in the US. (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185546)

Maybe they can get the Chinese to build them a high speed rail line.

File this under "grandiose uselessness" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37185170)

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

*sigh* No, it will not happen. No one is going to be building "tidal power transmission lines' considering there is no viability to tidal power generation. Same for wind power. It is supplemental to gas generation at best.

You may as well have written that purple fairies will greet us when we land on Mars and that there is a secret alien base on the far side of the Moon.

Finally, the entire railway project is kind of ill thought out in the first place. Why build a railway when you can just use the sea to move stuff? Considering there is not that much traffic between US and Russia, railway like that is kind of an overkill. This is especially in light that the even Euro-tunnel is not the financial success that it was thought to be.

Re:File this under "grandiose uselessness" (1)

wsxyz (543068) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185234)

Considering there is not that much traffic between US and Russia, railway like that is kind of an overkill.

Funny how there's not much traffic between the US and Russia when there's no rail lines or roads connecting them either.
I wonder if there might be some traffic if there were a relatively easy way to travel between them?

Symbolic of Unity (1)

Dr. Eggman (932300) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185176)

The cold war truly is over. I wonder how long until the US and Russia have a relationship like Britain and France.

Also: In Post-Soviet Russia, you link up transcontinental railway. In America, transcontinental railway links up you!

Re:Symbolic of Unity (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185472)

The cold war truly is over.

Many Russians would be genuinely surprised to hear that. As far as they are concerned, US is still the global enemy #1. E.g. the conflict with Georgia in 2008 was widely seen as instigated by US, and Georgian army equipped and trained by US.

Forget wind and tidal... (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185180)

The future of energy in the north is still natural gas and to a lesser extent, oil.

Projections for a natural gas pipeline in the state of Alaska foresees 100%-500% income over the oil pipeline.

http://www.adn.com/2011/08/22/2026719/report-shows-value-of-all-alaska.html [adn.com]

Siberia, the Russian Far East, Alaska and northern Canada are all rich with natural gas. And no one knows what is out in the Arctic Ocean.

Re:Forget wind and tidal... (1)

definate (876684) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185428)

How about, if you've setup the infrastructure for serious power transmission, you could do like Germany, and just get Russia to build the nuclear power plants, which provide you with the power. Not in my back yard? Sure. It's in Russia's back yard.

Mixed views (2)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185190)

On the one hand, I'm worried about the environmental damage that such an endeavor would do. On the other hand, in the long run if done properly this could save on a lot of shipping that would be more environmentally damaging. Also there are serious issues with lack of infrastructure in the US. This isn't within the US itself but would help solve some of the same problems that such infrastructural collapse is causing. The system will link into the larger North American rail system which is in decent shape as far as moving freight is concerned (I'd like more investment in it in directly in the US but that seems unlikely right now). The price tag on this project is massive, TFA says $65 billion for the whole project with around $10 billion for the main tunnel. That's a lot of money, and I can't help wonder if there aren't a lot of small projects that would have a better return. In general small projects have a very high rate of marginal return, but that may be more true in the sciences than other areas. I don't know how true that is for something like this. And TFA correctly points out that this could give a lot of economic stimulus in terms of jobs, which is something that both the US and Russia sorely need right now. TFA doesn't address what American permits are needed for this. I would imagine that state and federal approval would be necessary but the article doesn't discuss that at all. Overall, I'm skeptical that this will end up going through successfully anytime soon. But the idea of being able to take a train from Boston to Moscow certainly sounds appealing.

Re:Mixed views (1)

mozumder (178398) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185246)

On the one hand, I'm worried about the environmental damage that such an endeavor would do.

It's far more beneficial for the environment to remove a global water-based shipping system.

Rail is far more energy efficient.

Boats are probably the single largest source of global pollution.

Re:Mixed views (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185540)

More energy efficient than Ships? I think you might want to look over the numbers again...

Ted Stevens (1)

wsxyz (543068) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185202)

If Ted Stevens were still around this would be a done deal.

Re:Ted Stevens (1)

definate (876684) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185444)

Nah. His bridges only go to no where. Also, a train is more like a dump truck, and Ted "The Tubes" Stevens hate dump trucks. I mean, sure, this one's traveling through a tube, maybe even a series of tubes, but it's still a dump truck.

Oh crap... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37185208)

It's going to connect to that bridge to nowhere in Sarah Palin's Alaska and they will have to defend themselves from the millions of Soviet Russians coming through the tunnel.

That's a lot scarier than nukular subs...

Being a Russian citizen for 30 years (3, Funny)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185212)

After being a Russian citizen for 30 years, I can tell you right away that this will be one of the most spectacularly disgraced projects in history. There are oh so many ways to screw this up and for Russians one is usually enough.

Re:Being a Russian citizen for 30 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37185366)

So your defection to the Soviet Union hasn't been all you hoped it would be?

Re:Being a Russian citizen for 30 years (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185492)

Out of curiosity, what ethnicity do you self-identify as?

Re:Being a Russian citizen for 30 years (1)

vranash (594439) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185544)

The only thing worse than an American teamsters union is a Russian one? :D

extreme engineering (1)

hhedeshian (1343143) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185218)

Finally, they build one of the massive "what-if" projects.

Isn't there... (1)

cfulmer (3166) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185232)

Isn't there a fault line between Alaska and Russia?

Re:Isn't there... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37185358)

Isn't there a fault line between Alaska and Russia?

Yes there is... a very active one, causing lot of earthquakes and volcanic activity on the sea floor.

Re:Isn't there... (5, Informative)

Teancum (67324) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185498)

Surprisingly, eastern Siberia and even as far south as Japan are all on the "North American Plate", so in terms of a tectonic plate being of concern, it is not an issue going across or under the Bering Straight.

The map of the various major continental plates can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Plates_tect2_en.svg [wikipedia.org]

It is a legitimate concern, but North America actually ends at Tokyo, not Nome.

Re:Isn't there... (1)

TheSync (5291) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185510)

Berkeley's Cal Memorial Stadium [berkeley.edu] is on top of the Hayward fault, so what?

Another tunnel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37185256)

That will never see the light of day.

In soviet russia Government railroads you! (3, Funny)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185260)

In soviet russia Government railroads you!

Canada, eh? (1)

psyclone (187154) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185300)

But my rail-freight-delivered Russian caviar will have to pass through CANADA to get from Alaska to the mainland!

Seems like a customs nightmare to get from China > Russia > Canada > US, but taking a train from New York to London, the long way, would be a fun trip.

Re:Canada, eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37185352)

Correction: China > Russia > USA > Canada > USA

The difficult part isn't entering Canada, its entering the US twice.

Re:Canada, eh? (1)

wsxyz (543068) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185466)

Yeah, it'll be "what's in those cars", "open your trunk", and "you better watch out cause I don't have to let you in" twice in one trip.

(And "how many guns are you carrying" once from the Canadian)

natch (1)

kermidge (2221646) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185310)

Seems a natural enough idea for something useful.

If memory serves, there's a tectonic plate or two thereabouts, so I'd expect some interesting engineering as well.

Hmm. One planet, one dominant species (apologies to e. coli et al), one future - so to me it makes sense to plan for some of the better parts of it.

! transcontinental (4, Informative)

Marc_Hawke (130338) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185320)

There are a lot of transcontinental railroads in the US. I'd assume they have some in Russia too. This would be an 'intercontinental' railroad.

(It's possible it could be called 'trans-oceanic' but that would be only a technicality.)

Re:! transcontinental (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37185418)

Europe -> Asia?

Is that intercontinental enough for you?

Bah, let's not argue and just call it trans-siberian.

Re:! transcontinental (1)

6031769 (829845) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185502)

Except that the Trans-Siberian Railway already exists and has done so for decades.

Re:! transcontinental (1)

kanto (1851816) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185526)

I have dibs on naming the tunnel; Hear Ye! it shall henceforth be called the Strunnel.

Re:! transcontinental (1)

Hymer (856453) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185562)

Russian railroads cover two continents (Europe and Asia) so they are intercontinental. You can travel from Moscow in Europe to Vladivostok or Beijing in Asia, the trip takes a week.
Look here for further info: Trans-Siberian Railway [wikipedia.org]

No foreign exchange problems either (4, Funny)

turkeyfeathers (843622) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185336)

You won't have to worry about converting from dollars to roubles... by the time this tunnel is finished, Bitcoins will be the worldwide currency.

Russia announces the beginning *everything* (1)

jaypifer (64463) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185340)

Let me know when they announce the completion.

Old news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37185348)

The real article is from 2007, the other link is to a recent blog post that paraphrases the 2007 article.

Nice idea, but if it was true, they'd be drilling by now.

[insert comment about slashdot only posting old news and not mattering anymore]

Why? (1)

chill (34294) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185362)

I understand the freight transport bit, but there is a missing detail here.

WTF happens when the freight makes its way to the Seward Peninsula via Little Diomede? It is still 500 miles as the crow flies over to Fairbanks. Exactly how much will it cost and how long will it take to build that section?

Track gauge (1)

trainman (6872) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185382)

Umm, which track gauge will they use? North American or Russian? If the Russians agreed to use North American gauge and run the line all the way to China (which uses the same gauge as North America and Europe), well, that'd be convenient for us...

More power points from the Russians (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185384)

Yet another proud power point presentation from the Russians about their Brave Future Plans. Seriously, how do these announcements keep making the news? Russia announces bold plans regularly, and equally regularly they vanish into the recycling bin after a few weeks.
 
Not to mention, this is like me approving a bridge across the Puget Sound. Not only do I not have the money - the government of King County has no idea that they're party to this plan.

Funnything (2)

Adam Appel (1991764) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185430)

Being that I live in Anchorage, I would think someone in Alaska would talk about this. Not so, it's all quite on the Alaska news front. In fact I just drove the Alcan for my 17 time. FYI, it's still not "done". They are still working to finish paving above Destruction Bay. Why is it a bunch of people who have never set foot in the Yukon think that they can put a rail in? Then the miles in Western Alaska that has never seen a road. I would love to see land based access open up in western AK, but I see this project as wishful thinking based on the current admin in power in Alaska.

Tunnel to nowhere (1)

Dr. Spork (142693) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185434)

Since there is no rail link between Alaska and the rest of North America (see here [alaskacanadarail.com] ), this seems like an incredibly unwise project. And if the Russians are waiting for Americans to complete the rail link on their side of the tunnel so that it connects with the US network, then they're seriously overestimating us. Doing so would probably cost more than the tunnel itself, and would be a political non-starter for at least three different reasons (cost being the primary one).

Mismatched rail width (1)

unixfan (571579) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185462)

Russia made their rails incompatible with the rest of the world so that a foreign military could not just rail on into mother Russia.
That means they have a track width (called gauge in rail language) which is 4 foot 11 inches. While the US has 4 foot 8½ inches. Enough difference to instantly derail the train. The good part is that most of Europe and China uses the same gauge as US. I'm curious if they will modify their tracks or make new rail wheels which covers both sizes. Being that this is bound to open up a massive amount of shipments. Imagine if China joins in. Rail would see an amazing comeback. Next we would have Japan make a tunnel to join the Russian rail. I suspect that this would also make foreign countries more accessible and lower the desire to kill the "different" people "way over there".
(Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Track_gauge [wikipedia.org] )

Green energy angle (1)

amightywind (691887) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185468)

I like the green energy angle. Wind and tidal power? Really? I notice that the US didn't agree to the project, a small detail. Cooperation with Russia is long overdue, considering that they occupy Georgia, and enable a nuclear Iran. If we do build a bridge to Russia it will be to move our battle tanks into Siberia.

My Wish Is . . . (2)

NicknamesAreStupid (1040118) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185484)

. . . that all of us live to see this. We will celebrate /. being 100, too.

I doubt this will happen (1)

GhostBit (2444686) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185494)

These kinds of declarations of monumental projects have a habit of dying early. I'll believe it NOT when ground is broken, but when the first trucks start rolling through. I'd like to see it happen, but I doubt it will have a major impact on our (USA) economy soon and not as big as people think. Simply because shipping is quite efficient and cost effective. Largest freighters now can carry about 15,000 TEUs. Perhaps enough to fill 7,500 tractor trailers. And there are plans to build 20,000 TEU ships. The shipping costs you incur for buying Chinese products is quite negligible thanks in great deal to the monstrous size of these ships and the economy of scales they engender. Our biggest pacific trading partner is China, so hauling cargo from China to California is roughly a half circle. Contrast this to going in a straight line. The economics of this suggest it's not going to happen. A bigger impact on the global economy is the melting polar ice cap, and the increasing year round access of the Northwest Passage in Canada.

Global Warming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37185534)

If the predictions come true and Siberia slowly becomes fertile farming ground such a link could be very beneficial to both countries. But yeah, considering how many people freak out when the Mexico-USA-Canada highway is brought up I just don't see any way the Republicans allow the border to be opened with Russia. Americans are currently trying to build walls, not knock them down.

Still, anyone bored and looking for entertainment should listen to Limbaugh/Beck and the right-wing chat machine when this comes across their news feed. If you are looking for a brief synopsis: "yada yada, Obama's fault, yada yada, communism, yada yada, muslims, yada yada..."

But but but.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37185536)

Technology! We should be using a space elevator for this!

Plate tectonics (0)

Nimey (114278) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185578)

The Chunnel is one thing; Great Britain is on the same geological plate as Europe. This is something else entirely, trying to link two continents on separate moving plates, in a region that's notorious for earthquakes, underwater.

Completely aside from political and monetary problems, this just isn't a good idea.

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