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Alaska To Siberia... By Rail?

Hemos posted more than 13 years ago | from the pretty-damn-cool-if-they-do-it dept.

News 306

SlushDot writes:This article describes an unbelievably ambitious project that would make the "the chunnel", the underwater tunnel connecting England and France, look like a high school science project. Russia wants to build a tunnel from Eastern Siberia to Western Alaska, right under the Bering Sea. At a projected cost of 1.7x10^12 Russian Rubles (That's 4x10^10 GBP or $6x10^10 USD), I'm not sure where Russia will get this money, but wouldn't it be fun to ultimately travel from Tierra del Fuego to Johannesburg by train?"

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306 comments

frost pist (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#535770)

It's cold up there -- you could get a frost pist real easy like...

it'd be cheaper to... (4)

scotpurl (28825) | more than 13 years ago | (#535772)

... put all that money into an investing account, then use the interest to build big ferries, drive all the trains onto those ferries, and shuttle everything back and forth.

USSR (1)

piohhioh (263573) | more than 13 years ago | (#535774)

Hence more proof that the "Soviet Union collapse" was a farce... The USSR collapsed, but its rulers didn't, and this is one more step the world will soon find out... Whaddya think they gonna build a railroad to ship sardines from USSR to the US?

Chunnel or shuttle (1)

roady (30728) | more than 13 years ago | (#535775)

Wasn't the England-France train called the Shuttle, not the Chunnel ?

a "Wonder of the World" (for you CTP players) (4)

deander2 (26173) | more than 13 years ago | (#535776)

this would have a drastic impact on the world's view of russia, and may be worth that price in publicity alone.

remember that labor is dirt cheap for russia, so the dollar figure is a bit misleading. (that's how muc the labor it "worth", but not how much it costs) they'll part with much less cash in that, paying for raw materials and equipment, but equipment will also be made russian so that's cheap as well.

not much of a touristy idea tho (unless you like the coal trains of west virginia! :-)

Is this HONESTLY worth it? (2)

Karen_Frito (91720) | more than 13 years ago | (#535777)

Yeah, its a neat idea, and perhaps it could pave the way for things like space elevators and the like, but, is it REALLY cost effective to build a tunnel of that size and scale and length -- in such a remote place?

I'd think that the cost of shipping things/people to Alaska and Russia to get them somewhere they wanted to go (Say... Moscow, or China, or whatnot) would outweigh the cost of airplanes or large ships.

This is a cool idea, but the locale doesn't have the traffic to support it.

Poor little no puppy toe!

Never happen... (5)

cybercuzco (100904) | more than 13 years ago | (#535779)

Its a great plan, but it will never happen. There needs to be an economic reason to connect the two points of land. England needed to be connected to the rest of europe because it does alot of buesness in europe, and alot of tourists to europe fly into Heathrow airport in london, so you could make alot of money on cargo and passangers if you had a rail line and highway link that connected the two. Alaskas Main Export is Snow and Cold air. Its third most popular export is Oil. Siberias main exports are Cold and Ex Pollitical Prisoners. Third again is Oil. Alaska already has oil and cold, so does siberia. Nobody wants to live in either place, and we both have too many dissidents, most of whom read Slashdot. Find an economic reason to make a rail link, and itll happen, we have the technology, the $6 million dollars just isnt there.

Realistically... (1)

Jace of Fuse! (72042) | more than 13 years ago | (#535780)

Doesn't a fleet of Jumbo-Jets cost less?

If you crash a plane, you make another.

If your cross-sea rail collapses, that's 10^Hells' worth of loss.

-=-

Re:Chunnel or shuttle (1)

Tsujigiri (77400) | more than 13 years ago | (#535781)

Chunnel. As in CHannel tUNNEL, the tunnel that goes under the English Channel.

money troubles (1)

inconnu (174644) | more than 13 years ago | (#535782)

how does russia plan to pay for all of this? last time i checked, they were up to their necks in debt with a struggling economy to boot.

Reasons this won't work: (1)

atrowe (209484) | more than 13 years ago | (#535784)

The main reason the chunnel is needed in the first place is that a lot of people want to go back and forth between the UK and France. Siberia and Alaska are both some of the most unpopulated, barren, desolate places on earth. Who the hell would use the thing? I don't even think the space shuttle costs $60 billion. This is quite possible the most vaporous post I've ever seen on slashdot. How the hell is it "news for nerds"?

Waste of money IMO (3)

Yu Suzuki (170586) | more than 13 years ago | (#535785)

Okay, I'll be the first to admit -- this sounds really impressive and would be an amazing engineering feet if they pulled it off. But given the state of Russia's economy, spending $60 billion just to put in a railway, however impressive, seems to be awfully suspect. Remember what happened to the U.S. economy in the 1930s as a result of projects like the Tennessee Valley damming? The worst economic crisis in our nation's history, that's what.

Unfortunately, the death of communism hasn't done much to improve Russia's economy; there's still a lot of hungry people that must be fed, buildings that must be repaired, and pollution that must be removed (the Communists weren't too good about picking up after themselves). $60 billion would go a long way to repairing Russia's economy and fighting the rampant corruption there.

Engineering marvels and feats of science are cool and all, but I think it would be foolish to forget that technology is designed to serve the people, not enslave them. For a country as impoverished as Russia, the first order of business should be to help the many poor and/or depressed families get back on their feet.

Yu Suzuki

Shouldn't that be $6 x 10^13 ? (1)

GreyMatter (74748) | more than 13 years ago | (#535786)

A British billion is a million million, not a thousand million, or so I'm told. $60 billion dollars isn't that much these days, $60 trillion sounds like a much more impressive figure for an impressive project.

Re:Chunnel or shuttle (2)

acb (2797) | more than 13 years ago | (#535787)

According to the Academie Francaise and the various defenders of the French language, it is "Le Shuttle", a politic compromise. The press and public generally contract "Channel tunnel" to "Chunnel".

The French don't like "Chunnel" because they call the body of water la Manche, and not the English Channel.

Re:Argh (2)

SuperCujo (151089) | more than 13 years ago | (#535788)

And they seem to forget about a little thing called plate tectonics... If I remember correctly the Bering Strait has a major fault line in the seafloor. Not a nice thing to have near an undersea tunnel.

But I would love to see it happen.

Something smells fishy... (2)

Tin Weasil (246885) | more than 13 years ago | (#535789)

And it isn't the salmon in the north pacific.

It seems to me that this project will probably be funded by U.S. dollars and not Russian rubles. Although russia may be the face behind the operation, I'll bet that there are either plenty of U.S. investors involved, or the U.S. Federal Gov. will be willing to back the project with good-old taxpayers dollars (we weren't gonna use it anyhow...)

Either way, I hope the project manages to inject decent cashflow into the Commonwealth of Independent State's economy, God knows they need it.

Wait a minute, did I miss a war with Canada? (2)

automandc (196618) | more than 13 years ago | (#535790)

The map in the article shows Fairbanks to the East of the US/Canadian Border. I know that Alaska is remote, but I think we would miss that much of it if the Canadians start redrawing maps to their own advantage! On a different note, the article mentions a tunnel to the Sakhalin (sp?) Islands, enthusiastically funded by Japan. In the 20 year time frame for the Bearing Strait tunnel, extending a tunnel all the way to the Japanese Mainland (Nippon) doesn't seem too far fetched. Forget Tierra Del Fuego to Johanesburg, try New York to Tokyo! -no sig is good sig

Re:a "Wonder of the World" (for you CTP players) (2)

acb (2797) | more than 13 years ago | (#535791)

not much of a touristy idea tho (unless you like the coal trains of west virginia

I don't know about that; sure, the interior of the tunnel will be rather boring to look at, but put some tourists in comfortable carriages and it makes for quite a trip.. board a train in the US or Canada, and take a ride on the Trans-Siberian Railway.

Environmentalists will be aghast (4)

gbnewby (74175) | more than 13 years ago | (#535792)

First, let me mention that The Times should stick to buying maps, not drawing their own. Fairbanks is in Alaska, folks, not the Yukon...and Prince George is not ~300 miles inland.

That said, Alaskans (at least the environmental ones) will not be keen to have a road, or even a rail, from Nome to Fairbanks. Alaska includes an immense amount of undeveloped and inaccessible land, and even pro-oil folk want to see this continue.

Reading between the lines, the real benefit wouldn't be to tunnel cars, but trains. I can't imagine lots of immediate tourism, but trade would certainly develop.

The thing is, someone needs to do some analysis: is this really better than shipping by sea or air freight? (Anchorage is already one of the world's busiest cargo airports.)

The bottom line, as usual, is money. The Alaskan Oil Pipeline was an incredible feat of engineering, but was built for money. Who's going to see the money in a Trans-Bering tunnel?

Re:Chunnel or shuttle (1)

roady (30728) | more than 13 years ago | (#535793)

Me are not english mother language, sorry if me not see that forbid me post here.

Re:Is this HONESTLY worth it? (2)

influensa (267570) | more than 13 years ago | (#535794)

To Russia, of course this is worth it. This would be the ultimate trade route for them. That part of Russia (Siberia) doesn't have much more than raw minerals (lotsa rocks) which are expensive to ship by boat. (compared to shipping finished products that have a higher value to shipping cost ratio).

This would also give Russia a big market for transporting goods from the Pacific rim power house manufacturing countries (ie. Japan, South Korea) if they could do it cheaper and faster and safer than boat. Russia desperately needs to built an import/export industry, because it's slipping so fast into being a part of the third world.

And heck... it would be cool to take train from BC to Russia (not that there'd be much passenger transit on it...

Re:Argh (1)

Cuthalion (65550) | more than 13 years ago | (#535795)

All the 10^x crap is fine, but let's call a spade a spade.
$60 billion US.

Well, if you're an american. It's $60 thousand million in England (a billion there is 10^12)

Ring of Fire anyone? (2)

StDave (13072) | more than 13 years ago | (#535796)

Isn't this a fairly active volcanic area? I know I wouldn't want to be in the middle of the 23 mile stretch when a little one hits, let alone the big one.

Re:Chunnel or shuttle (1)

Tsujigiri (77400) | more than 13 years ago | (#535797)

The French don't like "Chunnel" because they call the body of water la Manche, and not the English Channel.

True, but most of the rest of the world tend to use the Pommie version. Personally I call it the Subnnel, for Subaquatic Tunnel, but that's because I'm an annoying prat! ;)

Not a Chance in HELL! (5)

Black Art (3335) | more than 13 years ago | (#535798)

I don't ever see this getting off the ground (or under it).

I used to live in Alaska. I moved there just before the pipeline went in. I remember what *that* took. This is a much bigger project with some bigger obsticles.

First - They are going to have to deal with the environmentalists. That alone is going to be a big task. When the pipeline was built, the various pro-environment groups were not nearly as strong as today. Getting them to even remotely buy-off on this is going to be next to impossible, if not totally impossible.

Second- They are going to have to figure out a way to make this thing work in tempitures that range from 60 below zero f to +90f in the summer. The climate is not hospitable to things that have moving parts or that can get buried.

Third - Much of the land is covered in permafrost. In order to build anything on it that will last, you have to dig to bedrock and fill with some other material. (Permafrost melts into a mud/jello-like substance in the summer. Outside Fairbanks you can see roofs of sunken houses that were built on it by foolish settlers.)

Fourth - There is absolutly NO economic reason to build the thing in the first place. Who is going to use it? The population density in Alaska and Siberia is very close to empty. There are not many people there. For the amount of track you would have to lay for so few people, what is the point?

Fifth - Good luck trying to get the governments of the US, Russia and Canada to agree on any of the details. I expect the wrangling by them, as well as the unions and other people who would want a peice of this to eat up 60 billion just amongst themselves. And that is before any track is laid.

Just because you can do a thing, does not mean you should.

Re:a "Wonder of the World" (for you CTP players) (1)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 13 years ago | (#535799)

With this, wouldn't it be possible, in theory, to take a train from New York to London?

Re:What about undersea communications cables? (1)

SuperCujo (151089) | more than 13 years ago | (#535800)

Telecom cables are flexible, trains dont usually like it when their tracks start to change shape.

What would you do with a derailed train load of passengers at the bottom of the Bering Strait after an earthquake?

Re:Waste of money IMO (2)

Flip102 (70010) | more than 13 years ago | (#535802)

Your knowledge of history seems to be bit...backwards. TVA (Tennesee Valley Authority) was created to provide jobs and electricity to the region of the country hardest hit by the Great Depression. If it helped or not is very debatable, but to say that it caused the Depression is just stupid.

Also, it was just one of many public works project instituted by the FDR administration to try and alleviate the effects of the Depression.

Small Problem (2)

redhotchil (44670) | more than 13 years ago | (#535803)

Considering they'd ever do this and get the trains running etc. It wouldn't do much good for transportation of people.
Sure, in most of the east you can ride a train just about anywhere. But when people get to alaska, they're going to have to get on a plane because of the lack of any popular or intricate american train system.

Fantastic Idea! (5)

FFFish (7567) | more than 13 years ago | (#535805)

I mean, who *wouldn't* want to ride a train to Siberia?

Actually, thinking a bit more, it may be a good idea. Rail transport is surely cheaper than freighter. And there are a pile of Chinese folk just starting to get their shit together to become the biggest consumer market in the world. Might be nice to transport stuff to them cheaply.

On the other hand, I don't recall there being many rail lines from North America to South America, or a (productively working) rail line from Europe to India, the second-largest mass o' peeples. Or perhaps our media doesn't like reporting on it.

Except for the Aussies, the major landmasses would all be interconnected by road/rail. That'd be interesting. And what with global warming and all, maybe Siberia ain't such a bad spot to visit after all. :-)


--

Re:Argh (1)

Bwuce Pewwens (261192) | more than 13 years ago | (#535806)

Yeah, but we're talking about American dollars here, so wouldn't it make sense to use the proper (American) definition of "billion"?

Tunnel (2)

_claw_ (177544) | more than 13 years ago | (#535807)

Weird, I had that same idea when I was 10 years or so... then I started calculating how long the tunnel would have to be. I remember thinking this is way too long for a tunnel and forgot about it again.
Anyway, isn't there seismological activity in this area ?

Probably.... very profitable (1)

spineboy (22918) | more than 13 years ago | (#535808)

I find it hard to believe that Russia can come up with the capital to finance the project by themselves, since they can't even afford to keep MIR in the sky at a very small fraction of that cost. However, if this is built, this railway line should be immensely profitable! I imagine that Russia will need and seek outside investors to help fund this.
Possible profit scenarios that I can see are:
1 Russia get a new "port" - I imagine that the amount of cargo coming across wil be VAST (spped cost benefits of rail vs shipping)
2 Russia's recently discovered new petroleum fields have had trouble exporting their product. I know that Russia hasn't been able to build their pipeline down to the Mediteranian Sea due to the fighting in the intervening countries. A pipeline thru the tunnel will benefit both Russia and the USA - they have oil, we NEED oil and want to be less dependent on mideast oil.
3 Tourism - drive your own car/RV in RUSSIA!

Technologically this shouldn't be anymore difficult that the Chunnel in terms of digging the tunnel itself, although I imagine that joining the two sides will be a bitch!! (unless they can receive GPS signals underground)

US security protest should be nill - very easy to defend and Rusia can profit if we want to send large amounts of troops thru the tunnel to the mid east areas

I dunno - are there any serious objections to building the tunnel that I haven't though of? - (I imagin that isolationist idiots like Jesse Helms will raise protests.)

Huh? (3)

istartedi (132515) | more than 13 years ago | (#535809)

These costs have a way of rising. Also, Alaska has a way of rising... and falling... and swaying side-to-side. I'm referring to the tremendous quake that struck the area... in the 1960s was it? What would that have done to a tunnel?

Build the connecting lines, run some good, sturdy, Ice-breaker ferries for a while. See if they turn a profit, then get back to us. OK?

Re:Not a Chance in HELL! (1)

StDave (13072) | more than 13 years ago | (#535810)

Third - Much of the land is covered in permafrost. In order to build anything on it that will last, you have to dig to bedrock and fill with some other material. (Permafrost melts into a mud/jello-like substance in the summer. Outside Fairbanks you can see roofs of sunken houses that were built on it by foolish settlers.)

Actually, perma-frost doesn't melt, thus the "perma" prefix. The permaforst layer is about 6 feet down (perhaps more) and it never melts, unless you run a locomotive through it. :)

Re:Never happen... (5)

SubtleNuance (184325) | more than 13 years ago | (#535811)

needs to be an economic reason to connect the two points of land

Yeah - I cant see any reason to have a train connecting North/Central/South America with Asia/Europe/Russia... not much value there eh. You could take a train from any where on the planet to anywhere else. Sounds like it has a small amount of value if you ask me..

the $6 million dollars just isnt there Lets just hope the other $59994000000 is...

would we need planes any longer? (1)

JJC (96049) | more than 13 years ago | (#535812)

If we had this, how many more tunnels would you need to be able to travel to any country by rail? I wonder how long it would take to go from London to New York by rail across Eurasia and North America, that would be one heck of a journey.

Continental Drift (2)

Me2v (12239) | more than 13 years ago | (#535813)

What about continental drift? I know the tectonic plates move but slowly, but they *do* move fast enough to cause violent earth quakes. What type of affect would the drift have on such a tunnel?

Re:Chunnel or shuttle (1)

Madjeurtam (101190) | more than 13 years ago | (#535814)

In fact I've never heard it called Chunnel at al here in Belgium (a little, partly french-speaking country next to France).

It's always called here le tunnel sous la Manche which I can safely translate to "the tunnel under the Channel".

Stéphane

USA needs oil BIG TIME/US environ will like this (1)

spineboy (22918) | more than 13 years ago | (#535815)

-US needs oil
-Alaska doesn't supply nearly enough oil to US
-Russia has lots o' oil and no way to ship it

Sooo...

I imagine that they're thinking that they can hook their pieline in our ALREADY BUILT pipeline. Nice neat solution. The USA can slow down drilling in Alaska (environmentalists (me) say Yeah!)

Re:Argh (1)

Malc (1751) | more than 13 years ago | (#535816)

But the article also mentioned 4x10^10 GBP. Mixing the magnitudes of billion might cause some confusion. Also, the "proper" definition of billion is rather subjective and based on your view point (although many might argue the American billion came after the others, and American was the only nation to use it) ;) Of course, one might also argue that the cultural Americanisation that has spread from the US in the last decade or so means that everybody outside of the US knows and probably uses the American billion.

Re:Waste of money IMO (1)

mcb (5109) | more than 13 years ago | (#535817)

If i recall correctly the tennessee valley project was started by the government to employ unemployed americans, thereby giving them money to spur the economy...

Re:Argh (1)

JJC (96049) | more than 13 years ago | (#535818)

Well, if you're an american. It's $60 thousand million in England (a billion there is 10^12)

Nope, used to be true, but simply isn't anymore, a billion is a thousand million, and a trillion is a thousand billion on either side of the Atlantic.

Re:a "Wonder of the World" (for you CTP players) (1)

deander2 (26173) | more than 13 years ago | (#535819)

you've obviously never taken a long train ride.

(hint: it's NOT fun)


Re:Argh (2)

alexburke (119254) | more than 13 years ago | (#535820)

It's $60 thousand million in England (a billion there is 10^12)

Oh, bullshit. I used to live in England. Everywhere on Earth, the following are the official definitions:

Thousand million == 000 000 000 == billion
Million million == 000 000 000 000 == trillion
Thousand million million == 000 000 000 000 000 == quadrillion

... etc. If you don't believe me, listen to the BBC News anchors (on BBC World outside Europe) referring to, say, $5,000,000,000 as "five billion dollars" -- and the same goes for pounds.

--

Re:Not a Chance in HELL! (5)

Black Art (3335) | more than 13 years ago | (#535821)

It does melt when you put something WARM over it. (Like a house or an earthmover.) Building on permafrost is a *BAD* idea. Park a big earthmover that has been running all day and see how long it takes to sink like a stone.

The top layer of permafrost does melt in the summer. (I have heard the whole area refered to as "permafrost", so i tend to use that usage.) I know. I have walked on it. (The top layer is covered by a thin and dense layer of vegitation. Kind of like walking on a carpet covering jello.)

My point was that the heat and weight of putting a rail system on that kind of ground is VERY expensive. You can't just build on top of it. They have tried that before in Alaska and it does not work. Either the road suffers from frost heaves and/or it buckles and sinks. The only way they can build on it in any stable fashion is to dig to bedrock and fill. They had to do it for the pipe, they do it for homes in Ancorage (where my parents live), and they have to do it for any other place where there is permafrost and they want to build.

No real choice there.

Re:Waste of money IMO (1)

tnak (163802) | more than 13 years ago | (#535822)

Remember what happened to the U.S. economy in the 1930s as a result of projects like the Tennessee Valley damming? The worst economic crisis in our nation's history, that's what.

Got that a little backwards. The crisis came first. The TVA was one (the first?) of Roosevelt's projects to put people to work. Boulder dam was another.

Re:Is this HONESTLY worth it? (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#535824)

1) If you want to talk about "Space Elevators" read Kim Stanley Robinson's "Red Mars." (pretty good book, I feel).

2) Forget the rocks... There's Oil in them 'thar hills! Wouldn't that make Russia possibly the biggest seller of Crude Oil to the country that uses most of it anyways (Cha-Ching!)? Making it cheaper for US companies to transport equipment back and forth, thereby giving incentive for companies like Texaco to go ahead and ruin yet another environmentally sensitive area of the world for a non-renewable resource which we no longer have to be dependant on but choose to be so?

3) As for the plate tectonics (sp?!) deal, I hope that they're planning to somehow compensate for that entire "ring of fire" deal that's down (up) there.

4) Do Prez Elect Bush and CEO.. err, I mean VP-elect Cheney (The Texas Oil Buddies) have anything to do with this?


Sign here

X__________________________

Re:Probably.... very profitable (1)

aenea (34844) | more than 13 years ago | (#535825)

I dunno - are there any serious objections to building the tunnel that I haven't though of?

Money. Even with favorable financing, payments on 60 billion dollars comes to more than $250 million a month. You'd have to charge space shuttle rates to make enough money just to pay off the loan. Even if you did plan to pull a dot-com and make up your losses on volume, Siberia and Alaska aren't the most...well connected of places. Most months, you'd have to pull the goods off the train at the end of the tunnel and put them on a ship or plane to get them down to the states.

Re:Continental Drift (1)

Maurice (114520) | more than 13 years ago | (#535826)

Japan is a seismic zone and yet they have really long tunnels between islands. I think it's fairly easy to take into account several centimeters per year of drift, with rails being piecewise and stuff. I'm sure thermal contraction and expansion is a bigger problem.

Oh would they just shut up?! (1)

FatSean (18753) | more than 13 years ago | (#535827)

All these fabulous projects coming out of the collapsed Soviet Union will bear no fruit. Remember the super-fast chip technology that was supposed to conquer the market? Where are the chips? The Mir space station couldn't be maintained, and they're going to build this ludicrous tunnel? I know the Russians have alot of pride, but come on...Reality Check!

It actually makes some sense... (2)

cmowire (254489) | more than 13 years ago | (#535828)

It actually makes some sense.. For non-timing-sensitive cargo -- i.e. not people -- a train is damn efficent. And if you run it through Russia for a small cost, they'll make money on the market going between the US and Asia.

Re:Not a Chance in HELL! (2)

istartedi (132515) | more than 13 years ago | (#535829)

I read an article about this someplace, so I know you are right. What I wondered is if anybody has tried building pools and then floating the foundations on pontoons? You could pump out the water before Winter, then pump it back in in the Spring. Of course that wouldn't work well for roads, but you can float a pretty big ship in a canal lock, so what's to stop you from floating a pretty big building in a pond dug out of permafrost?

Re:Chunnel or shuttle (1)

JJC (96049) | more than 13 years ago | (#535830)

The tunnel itself is simply called "The Channel Tunnel" which is colloquially shortened to "The Chunnel". There are two different trains that go under it though. "Le Shuttle" is one, which carries vehicles aswell as passengers and just goes from Folkestone to Calais ie from one side of the water to the other. The other service is a passenger-only service called "Eurostar" which goes between London, Paris and Brussels. There are also some Freight services.

Yep, and TVA r0x0rz! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#535831)

*cough* No, really, the TVA system is pretty cool. It's made lots of nice lakes, and frankly I don't give a damn about the communities that got displaced. Plus it doesn't really flood in TN anymore.

have we lost the will to do things? (1)

linuxbert (78156) | more than 13 years ago | (#535832)

have we
i want to go back to the 60's where things like putting a man on the moon and supersonic air travel were done just because it was cool to do

i wnat to live in a time where things are done because someone dreams, and whocares if it doesnt make money

i agree with a return in investment, but still alot more plans shoujld leave paper, and reach reality.

dream big, build big, and ill love you for it

Re:Never happen... (1)

Bwuce Pewwens (261192) | more than 13 years ago | (#535833)

You could take a train from any where on the planet to anywhere else.

Yeah, tell those bloody Aussies to stuff it, cause Australia doesn't count as "anywhere"...

Re:Purpose? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#535834)

trains are among the most inexpensive, most environmentally friendly, and most efficient ways to transport large amounts of anything (people, goods, etc)

Re:Probably.... very profitable (1)

Malc (1751) | more than 13 years ago | (#535835)

"Technologically this shouldn't be anymore difficult that the Chunnel in terms of digging the tunnel itself, although I imagine that joining the two sides will be a bitch!! (unless they can receive GPS signals underground) "

I don't think that you need GPS once started. I beleive with the Chunnel that they used lasers... it's just a matter of getting the starting reference points correct. The Chunnel had other interesting issues, such as sea level being higher on the French side!

Re:Tunnel (1)

Jace of Fuse! (72042) | more than 13 years ago | (#535837)

There's seismological activity everywhere. It's just very seldom so much that anybody would notice. Remember, earth's crust is ever-shifting. Slow though it may be. But the further apart two bodies of land are, the more noticable these changes are likely to be.


-=-

Re:Not a Chance in HELL! (1)

Maurice (114520) | more than 13 years ago | (#535838)

Heads up: A large section of Siberia *is" permafrost and that does not mean the trans-Siberian railway has been sinking (except may be financially that is).

Combined with the fact... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#535839)

The rail-line, combined with the fact that Russia will be releasing about 1/3rd of it's ENTIRE PRISON POPULTION [thetimes.co.uk] this year, makes for a very interesting story. :)

Re:What about undersea communications cables? (2)

Eimi Metamorphoumai (18738) | more than 13 years ago | (#535840)

Sell the rights to the Major Motion Picture. That's probably what they're planning on to pay back the 60 gigadollars.

Re:a "Wonder of the World" (for you CTP players) (1)

Ig0r (154739) | more than 13 years ago | (#535841)

It's decent if you have a cabin, hell if you're in coach.

--

Nope, Rail is MORE Expensive (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#535842)

Everybody so far has it backwards. Water transport is the cheapest, followed by rail, road and air. With water you need no track, you can go in a (pretty much) straight line and the world is about 7/8 covered with water so most land is fairly reachable.

This could make sense if... (1)

onyxruby (118189) | more than 13 years ago | (#535843)

This potentially could make sense if the tectonic plate shifting business can be dealt with at a reasonable level. If you think of this is terms of connecting Siberia to Alaska, than this would never ever pay for itself. If you think of this in terms of a land route between North/South America and Asia, Europe and Africa (throw Japan in the mix somewhere too), than the price is good.

The ability to ship everything from oil, cars, tourists, grain, electronics etc by rail would be extremely useful. The Russians could pay for this by opening up the tunnel to other nations. Shipping bulk goods by sea is certainly not cheap, and competition has always done wonders to keep prices in check.

The other thing to keep in mind is that this would create a gateway from China to the US. There is no question that China will be soon, if not already, be the worlds largest market. The Russians don't have to particulary use this themselves, they just make it available to others. It's kind of like a skycraper, the costs are astronomical, yet it is fairly profitable to build them.

On the environmental issues, I'm not sure how they plan to tackle those. If they can use electric trains (becoming more common, and the Japanase might supply these to get in on the action), than most environmental concerns could be fairly easily averted. The largest practical issue is not one of building the thing. The Chunnel from England to France proved that. It's the unstable nature of the ground itself, as other /.'s have already pointed out. Someone show me how they can deal with that, and I say this can be done.

Guys, GET REAL. (1)

Maestrogenic (157429) | more than 13 years ago | (#535844)

The Russians have great ideas. Just this past summer at the World Expo in Hannover they showcased models for a jet sea-rescue plane, a GIGANTIC underwater research vessel for the arctic regions (dwarfs current nuclear subs), and many more things. The ideas are there, sure. Lots of them.

But the money isn't. This is 60 billion dollars we're talking about. For something that has little economic merit, and certainly wouldn't repay itself anytime soon. We're talking about a country in a very large economic ditch. All this stuff is "vaporware."

Better map of the region... (1)

ArcticChicken (172915) | more than 13 years ago | (#535845)

If anyone has a good source for decent maps on the Internet, please share. :-) I find MapQuest sucks ... case in point I can't post a link to their map of the Alaska region.

From a department of the Alaska state government, here's the best map [state.ak.us] of the region I've found so far. A larger (and fuzzy!) map is here. [state.ak.us]

Re:have we lost the will to do things? (1)

Jace of Fuse! (72042) | more than 13 years ago | (#535847)

How touching.

You are so very right.

Screw a Siberian/Alsakan rail...

...let's build a bridge to the moon.

-=-

Deep thought by some one other than Jack Handey (1)

okmar (266773) | more than 13 years ago | (#535848)

What if there is a plan to build this to transport all of the people from the US to Russia because there is imminent doom of the entire North American continent being covered in ice in a few short years?


.

Re:Never happen... (1)

jmd! (111669) | more than 13 years ago | (#535849)

you miss the big picture.

once the rail link is in between siberia and alaska, russia isn't just connected to alaska, but to all of canada and the whole US. Which in turn actually connects 5 of the 7 continents. Sure a plane might be faster for personal travel, but this could have a big impact for cargo. And once the tunnel is in place, the rail is easy enough to replace as 250 mph+ magnetic trains are developed.

Re:Is this HONESTLY worth it? (1)

da5id (91814) | more than 13 years ago | (#535850)

Explain to me again how a tunnel to Alaska helps Russia reach the "pacific rim power house manufacturing countries"?

I really don't think raw goods are the answer here, as Alaska and Canada are pretty good sources of most (other than oil, but tankers have got to be better then a train, and if not, how about a pipeline?).


echo $email | sed s/[A-Z]//g | rot13

Re:a "Wonder of the World" (for you CTP players) (1)

Jonavin (71006) | more than 13 years ago | (#535851)

Yes. Or better yet from Chile to South Africa; the longest train ride in the world. I wonder how long that'll to take. It's probably faster swimming.

I always thought (1)

scriptkiddie (28961) | more than 13 years ago | (#535852)

this would be a good idea, but I thought I was being original.

It could be done cheaply, of course. First of all, for the actual tunnel under the Bering Strait, you could use a floating bridge - after all, tunnels were used on the British Channel only so they wouldn't block shipping, but there is very little shipping on the North Pole. (Seattle has two very beautiful floating bridges that were built at a remarkably low cost - though they are about 4 km each, since each segment supports itself and can be towed in, I don't think 60 km should be too bad.) Secondly, the vast majority of such a rail network is already built - there's a rail line going straight up the West Coast into Alaska, and rail already goes through Alaska. All these lines are very old and would need to be renovated, but it should be cheaper than building new lines.

Up in Alaska and Siberia, you'd need to cover the tracks somehow to prevent snow from clogging the lines - after all, trains might not be frequent enough to justify sweeping.

The train would clearly not be used for shipping, as massive barges already go between Seattle and San Francisco and Asian ports like Tokyo and Tianjin quite frequently. And though trains might be attractive for shipping between the West Coast and Europe, there's basically no trade going on now. Also, no one in particular wants to send things from the West Coast to Africa, and the little trade that does go on is in diamonds and oil, which are sent by pipelines and airplanes now anyways.

So what would it be useful for? Well, if there were a million passengers a year (random number), and the project was financed for 50 years (also arbitrary), a ticket on the $60,000,000,000 system would cost $1200. Using non-high-speed trains (since the tracks would be ridiculously expensive), the passage might take 9-10 days between the two closest cities on the line. Worse, boats would probably still be necessary to cross over to Japan, which would be a big part of the target market.

Perhaps the best use of the system would be to connect China and the U.S. There are a LOT of Chinese people who'd love to come to the U.S., and probably an untapped market of American tourists who'd love to visit China. The northern cities of China aren't all that far from Siberia, and the connection could be entirely by train. But the price is much too high (although reportedly Chinese people are paying $20,000 to be smuggled to the U.S. on a train car - which is then put on a barge and sent to Seattle or Vancouver - somehow I think the INS would get suspicious if an actual railroad line were built).

So in short, a train would do wonders for international cooperation, but it would be mostly useless. If you want to get to Asia fast, take a plane; to get there slowly, take a barge. Getting to Europe would probably take the better part of a month. Shipping is already dirt cheap between the continents. There's just no reason to do it.

Once again SF predicts the future.... (1)

Kalgart (127560) | more than 13 years ago | (#535854)

Does anyone else remember a book by Harry Harrison, from about 30 years ago which was the story of building the Trans-Atlantic Rail tunnel?
"Trans-Atlantic Tunnel: 'Hurrah'" I think the title was.

It's much the same idea, and shows one aproach to the engineering issues.

2008 News: Huge Quake Destroys Siberian Tunnel (1)

Wills (242929) | more than 13 years ago | (#535855)


The Anchorage quake (1964) was Magnitude 8.5 [unr.edu]

Have they included the massive extra cost of building an earthquake-proof tunnels? The whole region between Alaska and the Siberian Peninsula is located over major fault planes. Geologist's have concluded there was a massive quake a few centuries ago that was much bigger than 8.5 and possibly as big as 9.7 (more than one order of magnitude more energy than an 8.5)

Nobody really knows how big the quakes can get out there.

Re:Guys, GET REAL. (1)

ericdano (113424) | more than 13 years ago | (#535856)

Now, those sound better than a 60 billion dollar tunnel. I think mankind would be better off learning more about the oceans and ocean life rather than wasting money on some lame-o tunnel.
--

Re:Never happen... (2)

ckedge (192996) | more than 13 years ago | (#535858)


Ummm, no. You see, shipping goods by sea has always been cheaper than by rail.

It makes sense for the Chunnel because the cost of putting stuff (especially cars and people) on and off the ships for that short crossing is a relatively large overhead. But that goes out the window if you're talking about halfway around the world.

Oops (1)

scriptkiddie (28961) | more than 13 years ago | (#535859)

In the comment I just posted I said connecting the line and Japan would be difficult. Well, it sounds like that's already being taken care of. This is very important - while not too many people want to go to Siberia these days, and western Russia is just too far away, Japan might be a great place for Americans to go for a holiday.

I still think it's unlikely such a thing would be built, especially by Russia, but with Japan involved it almost makes sense.

Re:Never happen... (1)

FigWig (10981) | more than 13 years ago | (#535860)

Let me you introduce you to Mr. Ship and Mr. Airplane. Think for a while how building and maintaining a railroad would be cheaper than sending giant cargo ships.

Re:Not a Chance in HELL! (2)

hpa (7948) | more than 13 years ago | (#535861)


Fifth - Good luck trying to get the governments of the US, Russia and Canada to agree on any of the details. I expect the wrangling by them, as well as the unions and other people who would want a peice of this to eat up 60 billion just amongst themselves. And that is before any track is laid.


You can start by noting that Russia has a nonstandard track gauge... something about the czars being afraid of the railroad being used by invading enemy armies...

Re:Chunnel or shuttle (1)

Alex Pennace (27488) | more than 13 years ago | (#535863)

According to the Academie Francaise and the various defenders of the French language, it is "Le Shuttle", a politic compromise.

Every other culture in the world manages to get by with words from different languages in their vocabulary; the French are acting like crybabies.

I'll call it "Chunnel." I don't care to be Franc-correct.

Re:USA needs oil BIG TIME/US environ will like thi (1)

Zimm (94553) | more than 13 years ago | (#535864)

Ok, so then the trains, have piplines on them that hookup to the ah... Wait no the trains are actually giant piplines that aren't then trains... Or maybe what your saying can't possibly have derived from the article about trains in the first place.

Why not a Bridge? (1)

ryancooley (248760) | more than 13 years ago | (#535865)

Well lets see, we want to connect two continents across the coldest portion of the world... 'Gee, lets go under the water...' Does this seem idiotic to anyone else? Why not build a suspension bridge overland rather than under? It would save a lot of money and be much less maintenance intensive.

Re:Never happen... (2)

aussersterne (212916) | more than 13 years ago | (#535866)

There's more to this economic picture than just passenger travel. There's goods and (more importantly) natural resources exchange. There's a great deal of underexploited potential for trade of this kind between the US and regions of the former USSR simply because of geographic isolation; it isn't easy to transport every last thing by air or sea.

This could be a good deal for both nations, esp. with regard to petroleum.

Plus, don't underestimate the passenger thing... I doubt whether they'd even make it a passenger line, but I'd pay a decent penny just to be able to say I'd made the trip. I find the idea very cool.

Re:Environmentalists will be aghast (2)

Goonie (8651) | more than 13 years ago | (#535867)

The bottom line, as usual, is money. The Alaskan Oil Pipeline was an incredible feat of engineering, but was built for money. Who's going to see the money in a Trans-Bering tunnel?

Precisely. If the benefits outweigh the costs (throwing non-economic factors such as environmental impacts, positive or negative, into costs and benefits) it's a possibility. If not, it should wait until the costs can be reduced to make it worthwhile. If that never happens, too bad.

Re:Nope, Rail is MORE Expensive (2)

Schaffner (183973) | more than 13 years ago | (#535868)

Yes, water transport is cheapest, but it's also the slowest. In fact, in the US the big railroads carry quite a bit of container traffic for the shipping companies like Maersk and APL. The ships call at Seattle or Portland or Oakland or LA and the railroads carry them to Boston or New York and the containers are put back on a ship to get to Europe. It's a lot faster than going all water via the Panama Canal.

Um, do we know math? (1)

viper21 (16860) | more than 13 years ago | (#535869)

As opposed to some of our higher moderated posts, 6x10^10 is 60 BILLION not 6 million.

We're smarter than that.

-S

Scott Ruttencutter
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