12/02/2011

$65 Billion Siberia-Alaska Rail and Tunnel to Bridge the Bering Strait

Imagine in a few decades, you might be traveling along a transcontinental railroad, exploring territories unimaginable by most, trekking through pristine Canadian wilderness, Siberian ice deserts, and eastern European countryside from London's St Pancras Station to New York's Grand Central.  The Kremlin gave its support back in August for a $99 billion scheme that would link Asia and North America and allow for a potential journey of a lifetime.



The Russian Government has given the go-ahead to build what could certainly be one of the boldest infrastructure developments ever announced.  The super power is planning a transcontinental railway linking Siberia with North America. The "Mega Project" would traverse the Bering Strait with the worlds longest tunnel, a project twice the length of the Chunnel between England and France.  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 3/4 of the Northern Hemisphere.



The project would provide an efficient link of not only goods and passengers but also fiber optic cables and transmission lines.  They key is a 65-mile-long tunnel that would pass underneath the Big Diomede and Little Diomede islands in the Bering Strait.  the $10-12 billion tunnel is to be built in three sections and would cross the International Date Line, reconnecting the two land masses.  Engineers habve said there is no technical reason the tunnel could not be completed and it could provide a cheaper way of shipping freight around the world.



The project has many economic benefits, providing passage for 100 million tons of freight per year using the most efficient known way of transport by the time of construction.  Other benefits are proposed tidal energy plants which could provide 10 gigawatts of energy and a string of wind power fields could churn a constant supply of clean energy, serving as a vital link to a worldwide energy grid.



A 500- mile railway line stemming from the existing Trans-Siberian line to Yakutsk is due fro completion in 2013.  it is part of Kremlin plans to extend rail lines 2,360 miles to the north-eastern tip of Siberia by 2030.  That would open up the possibility of a tunnel, which could take up to another 15 years to complete.  it would also require U.S. engineers to create through train lines in Alaska, linking it with cities in canada and onwards.