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Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Russia has raised this one again!-

Construction of Eurasia-America railroad could cost $55-$67 bln

MOSCOW. April 18 (Interfax) - The construction of a transcontinental railroad from Eurasia to America with a tunnel under the Bering Strait could cost $55 billion-$67 billion, Viktor Razbegin, deputy chairman of a council that is studying the project, said at a press conference in Moscow on Wednesday.

The railroad would stretch about 6,000 kilometres, including 4,000 kilometres in Russia, and the tunnel would be 102 kilometres long, he said.

According to preliminary estimates by Mosgiprotrans, the construction of the railroad could cost $12 billion-$15 billion, the tunnel could run $10 billion-$12 billion and the electricity needed for the railroad could cost $23 billion-$25 billion. Investment in the construction of the tunnel was calculated based on a cost of $120 million per kilometre.

"The Japanese have offered to build it for half the cost," Razbegin said, adding that the project could be carried out on the basis of a partnership between the government and businesses with the use of the concession mechanism.

It could take nine to twelve years to build the railroad and 13 to 15 years to receive a return on the project. The railroad would be able to carry 70 million tonnes per year.

Razbegin stressed that the construction of the railroad is not being talked about at present. "We're talking about carrying out a detailed study of the project," he said.

Most large projects aimed at building new railroads in Russia have been mothballed in the last 17 years or remain under construction. tj

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

AS the media picks up the Russian report, it develops-

Russia proposes Bering Sea tunnel, railway to B.C.

Miro Cernetig and Peter O'Neil, Vancouver Sun

Published: Thursday, April 19, 2007

VICTORIA -- Nobody has been able to walk between Asia and North America for thousands of years, when the intercontinental land bridge was supposedly swallowed by the Bering Sea. But a scheme floated Wednesday would rectify that by building the world's longest undersea tunnel.

Government officials in Moscow told reporters that Russia is seriously backing a $65-billion US project to bore a 102-kilometre tunnel under the Bering Sea from Siberia to Alaska, and build a railway link from Siberia through the tunnel to the railhead at Fort Nelson, B.C.

The plan, which has been floated since 1905 by a Russian Czar and various other dreamers, is being revived by a consortium of Russian companies that want to create a conduit to send Siberia's vast oil, gas and hydro-electricity resources to North America.

"This will be a business project, not a political one," Maxim Bystrov, deputy head of Russia's agency for special economic zones, told Bloomberg news Wednesday. The scheme is to be presented to the Canadian and U.S. governments next week, a Russian Economic Ministry official promised.

It would be one of the most challenging engineering projects ever attempted. But it may be difficult to get the idea taken seriously.

"Maybe it's something we can do after the Olympics," quipped Jock Finlayson, executive vice-president of the Business Council of B.C.

"I think I read something about this in a CIA fact book four or five years ago. Do you think they know the challenges of getting this [the rail link from Alaska to Fort Nelson] by B.C. first nations?"

The tunnel idea has yet to hit radar screens in Ottawa.

Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn said Wednesday he was unaware of the project and couldn't comment. Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs also said it hadn't heard about the tunnel, which would dwarf the 50-kilometre Chunnel between England and France.

"We are not aware of any Canadian government representatives that have been contacted with respect to this proposal," said Brooke Grantham, a spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs.

"This project was not raised at the recent high-level Canada Russia Business Summit in Ottawa in March."

The reason for the mystery is that it all might just be a negotiating ploy, some suggest.

European energy-market observer Derek Brower called the proposed project "absurd" and suggested the Russian government is playing political games to threaten its European customers to sign energy deals.

Brower, who covers the industry for the London-based Petroleum Economist newsmagazine, said the bulk of Russia's oil and gas reserves are thousands of kilometres from the Bering Strait. Moscow has been threatening to expand exports to China as a way to intimidate European countries that have been looking to reduce their dependence on Russian gas supplies.

"Russia has been saying to Europe, 'Listen, if you don't like us, we've always got China to sell our gas to.' To a large extent Europe has been scared about this," Brower said.

The threats have resulted in many European customers scrambling to sign long-term contracts with the Russian government-owned Gazprom.

"It's even difficult for Russia to supply China, the fastest-growing energy market in the world, let alone to talk about what sounds like the most absurdly expensive and technologically difficult project to deliver," Brower said.

"It just sounds completely outrageous to me."

 
Edith Chief Commissioner

Location: Line 1 from Porte de Vincennes bound for Bastille station

The logistics of a 100 km tunnel under the Bering Strait, in the freezing conditions of Siberia are hard to even contemplate.  It will be many times harder than the short 50 km tunnel under the English Channel.

An oil or gas pipeline and undersea power cables are do-able, but a tunnel is too much to contemplate.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

RUSSIA'S AMBITIOUS RAILWAY VISION FOR EASTERN SIBERIA FACES REALITY CHECK

By Sergei Blagov

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Russia has announced an extraordinary project to build a transcontinental Yakutsk-Magadan-Anadyr-Alaska rail link, which would include the world's longest subsea tunnel under the Bering Strait. However, the news comes as a reminder that Russia's major railway projects in the East tend to be loss-making and take decades, if not centuries, to materialize.

The plan was revealed in Moscow on April 18 by Viktor Razbegin, deputy head of industrial research at Russia's Economic Development and Trade Ministry and an expert at Russia's Academy of Sciences. He insisted that the project could prove economically viable, despite its huge costs, estimated at $55-67 billion. Razbegin argued the railway would repay construction costs in 13-15 years by attracting and generating up to 70-100 million tons of freight annually.

The 4,000-kilometre Yakutsk-Magadan-Anadyr section of the rail link in Russia would cost $12-15 billion, the tunnel would take another $10-12 billion, while the remaining amount would be invested in infrastructure development, Razbegin said. The 102-kilometre tunnel would be built in three sections through two islands, while the project would also include oil and gas pipelines across the Bering Strait and a fibber optic cable network, he said (Interfax, RIA-Novosti)

Plans for a tunnel under the Bering Strait, the Yakutiya railway, and the Baikal-Amur Railway line (BAM) were first considered in the 19th century. Stalin revived the BAM idea, and half a million Gulag prisoners built its Eastern section during the 1930s and 1940s.

Following Stalin's death in 1953, BAM construction was abandoned, only to be revived again in the early 1970s by Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. The 4,000-kilometre rail system, which traverses Eastern Siberia and the Russian Far East some 400-500 kilometres north of and parallel with the Trans-Siberian railway, was finally declared complete in 1991 at an estimated cost of $10 billion. However, technically the BAM was not completed until December 2003, when the Severomuisk tunnel -- running nearly one mile below ground -- was completed.

Another part of East Siberia's railway system, Yakutiya Railway, has also been subject to delays. Russia has been building this 820-kilometre-long railway between Yakutsk and the BAM since the early 1990s. Although it was originally expected to be completed by 1998, now its completion is tentatively slated for 2008.

Yakutiya Railway was launched in 1995 to operate the Yakutsk-Tommot-Berkakit line. In 2006, it reported net losses of 2 million roubles due to dropping usage. Last year the company funnelled 1.7 million tons of freight or about 5% less than in 2005. According to Yakutiya Railway CEO Vasily Shimokhin, the decline is the result of Yakutiya coal companies cutting their shipments. The company currently operates the Tommot-Berkakit line, which funnels some 2 million tons of freight a year.

However, the company aims at raising its turnover, as the Yakutsk-Tommot line is due to be finalized in 2008. This year Yakutiya Railway plans to handle some 2.2 million tons of cargo. Its annual freight is expected to reach 40 million tons and earnings to go up to $800 million by 2012 due to development of coal and iron ore deposits (RBK daily, April 6).

As with BAM, Yakutiya Railway appears to continue struggling to make the ends meet as commercial enterprises due to the high costs. Both lines are located in permafrost areas and run through swamps, taiga, mountain ranges, and over hundreds of rivers, making maintenance expensive. The cost of freight carried by Yakutiya Railway or BAM is roughly twice that of the Trans-Siberian Railway.

Both Yakutiya Railway and the BAM were originally conceived to give the development of Eastern Siberia a much needed boost. Railway designers planned new mining and industrial centres along these routes to mine and process its timber, coal, gold, iron and other resources, but private investors in these projects are yet to show up, while the government is yet to provide funding to build them. Therefore, instead of stimulating new industries in the region, these rail links appear to remain liabilities rather than assets, at least for now.

In terms of its scale and engineering challenges, the proposed Yakutsk-Magadan-Anadyr rail line could equal or exceed the BAM. The Yakutsk-Anadyr link would run through inhospitable permafrost areas with the world's harshest winter weather conditions, and its construction and maintenance costs would be not only exorbitant, but also difficult to estimate in advance.

Therefore, the Yakutsk-Alaska rail link seems destined to haemorrhage red ink, like the BAM and Yakutiya lines, which remain largely priced out of the cargo market because their revenues still cover roughly half of the maintenance costs. As the economic viability of the proposed Yakutsk-Alaska rail link appears an unlikely goal to achieve, this extraordinary project would need equally extraordinary circumstances to materialize.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Group pushes intercontinental railroad

by Sean Doogan

Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2007

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- A group of Russian and international businessmen are in Anchorage this week to push their idea for an Alaska-Siberia rail link.

A delegation from the Inter-Hemispheric Bering Straight Tunnel and Railroad Group is working the rooms and members of the Arctic Technology Summit at the Egan Civic and Convention Center.    

The group's dream is to build a 68-mile-long tunnel between Uelen, Russia and Wales, Alaska.    

The idea isn't a new one. The rail link has been proposed by various emissaries from both the U.S. and Russia, including President Abraham Lincoln and more recently, former Gov. Walter Hickel.

A French engineer drew up plans for the undersea tunnel in 1905.    

While the group says it's optimistic about the project's 20 year timetable, spokesmen acknowledge the politics involved are a major hurdle.

"The biggest challenge is the politicians that could help us see things in very short time increments ... very short term," Alexander Sergeyev, a Russian businessman said.

The Bering Tunnel Group's president, George Komual, said that if political barriers could be overcome, the possibilities opened by a trans-continental link are promising.

"I believe that a railroad is the key, the only key to unlocking the Arctic treasure chest," Komual said. "No other transport known to mankind can do that."

Members of the Bering Tunnel Group have asked the U.S. and Canada for permission to present their idea at the G-8 summit in Japan next year.

 
callufrax Train Controller

Location: Nth. Strathfield, Main Northern, CityRail - Sydney, NSW, Australia

Manchester Piccadilly to New York Penn, anyone? If only! Well, I can dream. Smile

 
PalmerEldritch Say goodnight to the bad guy

Location: Princes Park, Carlton

Given the increasingly chilly relations between Russia and the United States, the dream of a Bering Strait rail link is further off than it has been any time since 1989.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Travelling by train from London to America via Siberia and Alaska could one day become a reality.

Russia has given the go ahead to a £60bn project which would see a 65-mile tunnel dug under the Bering Strain, connecting Asia with North America. If the plans materialise, the journey could take three weeks in sub zero temperatures and cover three continents along the way.

The proposed tunnel which would be twice as long as the Channel Tunnel would take 15 years to complete. It would pass under the Big Diomede and Little Diomede islands and straddle the international dateline to link East and West.

According to a report in the Mail, engineers have said there is no technical reason why the tunnel could not be completed and it could provide a cheaper way of shipping freight around the world.

The route would however require US engineers to create through train lines in Alaska, linking them with cities in Canada and beyond.

Aleksandr Levinthal, deputy federal representative for the Russian Far East, gave the go ahead this week at a conference on developing infrastructure in the country's remote north-east.

He told The Times: "We should see advanced development of road and rail infrastructure here (in the Russian Far East) and improvement in the investment climate in Russia as a key aim."

Delegates from the US, China and Britain attended the conference in Yakutsk which was aimed at capturing the economic potential of the resource-rich region.

A £900 million, 500-mile railway line from the existing Trans-Siberian line to Yakutsk is due for completion in 2013 and is part of the Kremlin's plans to extend rail lines 2,360 miles to the north-eastern tip of Siberia by 2030.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

London to New York rail journey on horizon

It was first mooted as long ago 1905 by Tsar Nicholas 11, but this week the Kremlin finally gave the green light for a 65 mile (106 km) tunnel linking Asia and North America, taking the epic project a step nearer reality.

The conference in Yakutsk was hosted by Yegor Borisov the Governor and the project was ratified by President Medvedev's top officials including Aleksander Levinthal the deputy federal representative for the Russian far East.

It's been hailed as the greatest railway project of all time but admittedly, there are still a small few details outstanding such as funding to iron out but Russia is determined to pursue its claim to the huge fossil fuel and mineral wealth in the arctic and develop its trading ties with China. Experts forecast that the completed service could carry 3% of the world's freight and earn £7billion GBP per year. Engineers have said the project could reach break-even in seven years.

A 500 mile, £900m GBP link from the Trans-Siberian railway to Yakutsk is already in construction and will be completed in 2013, nudging towards the Russian goal of a further 2360 miles by 2030. This will provide strategic links from the mineral rich territory in the north to key freight lines in Russia and China.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Russia has unveiled an ambitious plan to build the world’s longest tunnel under the Bering Strait as part of a transport corridor linking Europe and America via Siberia and Alaska.

The planned tunnel is 103km long and will connect 3/4 of the northern hemisphere together in a single rail system - effectively allowing you to take a train trip from London to New York. However, the goal appears to be not driven by passenger journeys, but linking the vast Siberian resources to North America.

Russia has unveiled an ambitious plan to build the world’s longest tunnel under the Bering Strait as part of a transport corridor linking Europe and America via Siberia and Alaska.

The 64-mile (103km) tunnel would connect the far east of Russia with Alaska, opening up the prospect of the ultimate rail trip across three quarters of the globe from London to New York. The link would be twice as long as the Channel Tunnel connecting Britain and France.

The $65 billion (£33 billion) mega-project aims to transform trade links between Russia and its former Cold War enemies across some of the world’s most desolate terrain. It would create a high-speed railway line, energy links and a fibreoptic cable network.

Proposals for a tunnel under the Bering Strait were first advanced a century ago under Tsar Nicholas II but foundered with the outbreak of the First World War and the Russian Revolution. The idea was revived after the collapse of the Soviet Union but was shelved once again in Russia’s financial meltdown of 1998.

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.

Maxim Bystrov, deputy head of Russia’s agency for special economic zones, said: “This will be a business project, not a political one.” The tunnel across the international date-line would be built in three sections through two islands in the Bering Strait and would link 6,000km (3,728 miles) of new railway lines. The tunnel alone would cost an estimated $10-12 billion to construct.

The scheme is being championed by Viktor Razbegin, deputy head of industrial research at Russia’s Economic and Trade Development Ministry. He has long advocated a tunnel under the Bering Strait to provide a land route between Russia and the US, and published a feasibility study in the 1990s.

He told journalists that state and commercial companies would form a public-private partnership to fund and run the project. A conference in Moscow next week will propose an inter-governmental agreement with the US to underwrite construction of the transport link in return for a stake in the business.

Russian Railways is said to be examining the construction of a 3,500km route from Pravaya Lena, south of Yakutsk, to Uelen on the Bering Strait. The tunnel would connect this to a 2,000km line from Cape Prince of Wales, in West Alaska, to Fort Nelson, in Canada.

The project could save Siberia and the US $20 billion a year in electricity costs, according to Vasily Zubakin, deputy chief executive of Hydro, a subsidiary of Russia’s main electricity producer, Unified Energy Systems. The company plans to build two giant tidal plants in the Far East to supply tengiga-watts of electricity by 2020.

However, some of those said to be involved in the project appeared sceptical. Sergei Grigoryev, vice-president of the state oil pipeline monopoly Transneft, said: “I’ve never heard of this plan. We need to first develop fields in East Siberia.”

Others also questioned whether it made economic sense, pointing out that Alaska has large oil reserves of its own and that China’s huge market was closer and more lucrative.

The tunnel on the Russian side would start in the Chukotka region, governed by Roman Abramovich, the billionaire owner of Chelsea FC, who appears unlikely to plough his fortune into such a risky venture.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article1680121.ece

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

There are a number of questions left unanswered here, the most important being who is to build the connection across Alaska to Canada? perhaps by that time it might be done with Chinese foreign aid!

Less important would be change of gauge locations.  How far would the Russian gauge extend? And how far into Russia would the standard gauge extend? Perhaps the Chinese border would be a good destination.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

More than a century since Russian Tsar Nicholas II dreamed of an undersea rail link to North America, plans are afoot for the world's longest tunnel to be constructed beneath the Bering Strait.

Connecting Siberia to Alaska, the 103 kilometre tunnel would span a distance twice the length of the England-France 'Chunnel', at a cost of around AU$62 billion.

The tunnel would form part of a larger rail network carrying 100 million tonnes of freight each year from London to New York and everywhere in between, covering three quarters of the Northern Hemisphere.

It is estimated that construction of the tunnel, which would accommodate a high-speed rail service but not a road for motor cars, will take 15 years to complete.

With support from a number of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's top officials, a possible agreement will be proposed to US Government representatives early next month at a conference in Moscow.

If the US gets on-board with the plan and agrees to underwrite a share of the construction, the project could save both nations $18 billion each year, thanks to a pair of giant tidal energy plants that would supply 10 gigawatts of electricity by 2020.

Aleksandr Levinthal, Deputy Federal Representative for the Russian Far East, said the tunnel would eventually carry three percent of the world's freight, making about seven billion dollars each year.

This is not the first time the tunnel has been proposed however, with plans discussed during the Megaprojects Of Russia's East conference in Moscow in 2007.

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

The Russian Government has approved an ambitious plan to build a 65 mile-long undersea rail tunnel under the Bering Strait to connect Russia and the US at a cost of $100bn.

The Bering Strait high-speed rail tunnel was first proposed in 2007, and could connect the far east of Russia with Alaska, linking Uelen on the Russian side with Nome on the Alaskan side.

The tunnel project would form part of a transport corridor linking Europe and America through Siberia and Alaska.

The proposed tunnel will have provision to lay a fibreoptic cable for communications and energy links, and when complete the tunnel would make it possible for passengers to travel all the way from London to New York.

Engineers of the project also claim that the tunnel could carry 3% of global freight.

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

Through London to New York rail journeys were first mooted as long ago 1905 by Tsar Nicholas II. In mid-August, the Kremlin finally gave the green light for a 106km tunnel linking Asia and North America, beneath the Behring Strait.

The conference in Yakutsk was hosted by governor Yegor Borisov and the project was ratified by President Medvedev’s top officials including Aleksander Levinthal, the deputy federal representative for the Russian Far East.

It has been hailed as the greatest railway project of all time but there are still a few details to settle, such as funding. Russia is determined to pursue its claim to the huge fossil fuel and mineral wealth in the arctic and develop its trading ties with China. Experts forecast that the completed service could carry 3% of the world’s freight and earn £7billion per year. Engineers have said the project could reach break-even in seven years.

An 800km, £900m link from the Trans-Siberian railway to Yakutsk is already in construction and will be completed in 2013, heading towards the Russian goal of a further 3,776km by 2030. This will provide strategic links from the mineral rich territory in the north to key freight lines in Russia and China.

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

.MORE ON BEHRING STRAIT TUNNEL

on September 7, 2011 in Europe

Connecting Siberia to Alaska, the 103 kilometre tunnel would span a distance twice the length of the England-France ‘Chunnel’, at a cost of around $60 billion.

The tunnel would form part of a larger rail network carrying 100 million tonnes of freight each year from London to New York and everywhere in between, covering three quarters of the Northern Hemisphere. It is estimated that construction of the tunnel, which would accommodate a high-speed rail service but not a road for motor cars, will take 15 years to complete.

With support from a number of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s top officials, a possible agreement is to be proposed to US government representatives at a conference in Moscow early in September.

If the USA agrees to underwrite a share of the construction, the project could save both nations $18 billion each year, thanks to a pair of giant tidal energy plants that would supply 10 gigawatts of electricity by 2020. Deputy federal representative for the Russian Far East Aleksandr Levinthal says the tunnel would eventually carry 3% of the world’s freight, making about $7 billion each year.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley
 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Full steam ahead Asia

9 December 2011

0

The economic rise of South-East Asia has resulted in billions being spent on new rail tracks and infrastructure. Elisabeth Fischer discovers how the construction of interconnected rail networks from China, India, Mongolia and all the way into Russia could entail and establish the economic rise of the Far East.

In December 2010, US-based iCD Research forecast that India and China are to be among the fastest growing railway markets in the coming 12 months.

"On the forefront of Asia's frenzied railway activity is China, trying to push back the economic frontiers of Asia."

While the transport sector of the West is plagued by deficits and budget cuts, the once squeaky, unreliable and underfunded network in the Far East is on the upswing - fuelled by an economic rise, increasing domestic consumption, escalating demand for freight transport and passenger growth.

The forecasts have been proved correct. The past year has seen a railway boom that promises to tie South-East Asia closer together. China is at the forefront the development, spreading its networks all over South-East Asia and beyond. India, on the other hand, is still struggling with capacity constraints but has implemented plans to undergo major rail rehabilitation in the years to come.

Mongolia plans to expand its network into Russia, which in turn is still pursuing its plan of building a rail link via the Bering Strait to the US.

As different as the countries might be, they all have realised the economical benefits of a strong railway system. With their economic rise, billions goes into high-speed rail and new networks to connect cut-off areas, as well as improving passenger and goods flow - heralding a transport revolution in the Far East.

China: year of the railway?

On the forefront of Asia's frenzied railway activity is China, trying to push back the economic frontiers of Asia. The rapid expansion of its high-speed network in the last years has gained a lot of international attention.

Yet its ambitions do not stop at the border. Despite aiming to build a continent-spanning high-speed rail link to Germany and the UK within the next ten years, it also drives the interconnectivity with its bordering countries in South-East Asia and beyond.

In February 2011, China signed an agreement with Kazakhstan to build a 1,050km line to the city of Almaty. Additionally, it will build a 1,215km cross-border railway together with Myanmar over the next three years from the Kyaukphyu deep sea port in Myan mar to Yunnan.

It is also in discussions with Thailand to jointly build a number of railway projects, including one from Bangkok to the Thai province of Rayong, and is currently building a $2bn railway to connect Tehran in Iran with Beijing.

China's continuing involvement in Asia's network is not without an ulterior motive, which is securing access to resources all over the world. State-owned China Metallurgical Group for instance plans to develop a 700km, $5bn track, linking Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan within the next five years, mainly developed for the transport of ferrous and copper.

But not everything looks bright and shiny, as in May 2011, the development of a 421km, $7bn Lao-China high-speed track was stalled over social-environmental concerns. Perhaps worse, the government had to suspend more than 10,000km of rail projects following the high-speed accident at the end of July, which killed 40 people.

In addition, more than 80% of China's current project will face construction delays as the Ministry of Railways was burdened by debts of $330.3bn at the end of June 2011. This, however, is of no distraction to the ministry. In November it allocated funds of $31.5bn to curb railway investment once again.

Mongolia looks to Russia

Fuelled by the growing mining industry in the country and its strategic location to Russia and China, Mongolia has grown to be one of the fastest developing economies in Asia.

"We should see advanced development of road and rail infrastructure and improvement in the investment climate in Russia as key."

In order to bolster the country's sovereignty, the Mongolian Government adopted a plan in early November 2011 to extend the country's railway infrastructure. It envisages the construction of a 1,100km railway, the construction of which will begin by the end of this year.

To make the most of its vicinity to Russia, Mongolia will also connect its industrial centres Dalanzadgad and Choibalsan, which are booming in the emerging resource-driven economy, to the Russian railway system.

This plan is a departure from the original one to connect the network to China, which would be more feasible as well as cost and time-effective as suggested by international experts, the World Bank and the Asia Development Bank.

However, Mongolia has decided for the more expensive option and leaves the connection to China for the future. Mongolian officials have emphasised that this route would better protect the country from possible Chinese economic and political pressure.

According to US-Mongolia Advisory Group president Alicia Campi, Mongolia finds Russia to be a more comfortable partner to work with than China, telling Eurasianet in 2010: "Russia's partner since 1949 in Mongolia's north-south border-to-border sole railway, are a known, basically reliable commodity to Mongolian policymakers and they share Mongolian concern over rapidly increasing Chinese penetration and monopolisation of north Asian economic trade."

Russia envisions the Bering Strait

Russia however has even more ambitious plans on its own. At the end of August the government approved a plan to build a $99bn, 104km-long underwater railway tunnel under the Bering Strait to connect Russia and the US - twice the length of the UK-France Channel Tunnel. The idea was first raised by Tsar Nicholas II in 1905, and was already proposed by the government once before in 2007.

Deputy federal representative for the Russian Far East Aleksandr Levinthal introduced the idea at a conference on developing railway infrastructure in the country once again, telling the Times: "We should see advanced development of road and rail infrastructure here [in the Russian Far East] and improvement in the investment climate in Russia as a key aim."

Engineers claim there is no technical reason for the tunnel to not to be built as the depth of the water offers little challenge and tides and currents are not severe. Russia aims to use the tunnel for freight and claims it could carry 3% of global transport of raw goods.

One significant factor of constructing the tunnel at this point is the fact it would provide China with an alternative route into US markets. Another purpose is to open it up for passenger travel between Europe and the US.

However, an additional 4,000km of new track would be needed to link it to Russia's rail network, plus another 2,000km to connect it to existing services on the US side. The construction of the tunnel itself would take ten to 15 years. A first step has been made, when Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev pledged in mid-November that railway will grow, especially the ones in the north of the country, which could directly link to the Bering Strait.

Rail rehabilitation in India

"One significant factor of constructing the tunnel at this point is that it would provide China with an alternative route into US markets."

In direct comparison with its neighbours, India's rail network, which is the oldest in Asia, seems overburdened and out-of-date.

It carries some 17 million passengers and 2 million tons of freight a day and most of its major corridors have capacity constraints requiring radical improvement.

In order to tackle the constraint, Indian Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee announced at the end of February 2011 the highest-ever investment outlay of $12.71bn for rail upgrades in the year beginning on 1 April 2011. She said as much as 1,300km of new lines would be built in 2011 / 2012 only, compared to the post-1950 average of 180km to meet rising travel and freight demand in the world's second-fastest growing major economy.

In addition, 236 stations would be upgraded throughout the country, as well as 68 new trains would be implemented, including nine non-stop ones between major cities. The government also set itself the goal of rail accounting for 50% of inland freight movements by 2020 from currently 35% in 2009.

As part of the plan, India will also build a rail link into Bangladesh, in a bid to enhance people-to-people contact and boost bilateral trade and investment between the two countries. China also eyes into India, showing keen interest to have a high-speed rail link through Manipur areas. At present, it is carrying out a major project on its borders to establish links with India.

India itself has seemingly been cautious toward the construction of a high-speed link - even within its own borders. Only in summer 2011, Indian Railways Construction assigned a UK company to conduct a pre-feasibility study for a potential high-speed rail within the country. If the project goes through, the track will ultimately also connect the two biggest economies in South-East Asia.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW




Russian Railways chief believes tunnel can be built under Bering Strait
Today at 19:52
Interfax-Ukraine

A decision on building a tunnel under the Bering Strait to connect the railway infrastructures of Russia and North America should be made before 2017, Russian Railways President Vladimir Yakunin told journalists on Saturday, Apr. 7.

"I am sure that Russia needs to develop railway services in the Far East and Kamchatka, and I believe a decision on building [a tunnel under the Bering Strait] should be made within the next three to five years. I mean a decision should be made that this should be done in principle," Yakunin said.

"These are not just dreams. I said about this for the first time when I took this office," he said.

Yakunin said that, five years after he became the Russian Railways president, he was approached by some U.S. business people who suggested that research should be done on building such a link.

"So these are not just dreams. As a matter of fact, a design of this project is being worked on now," he said.

"As for when this could be put into practice, I think it should take 10 to 15 years," Yakunin said.

The project can be implemented only based on multilateral cooperation between various countries, Yakunin said. "America should be on the one side and Russia on the other. China is interested as well, and so multilateral cooperation is inevitable," he said.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Estimates show it will take 15 years and $30 billion to construct a 103-kilometer tunnel to link the two continents.

 

S. PETERSBURG A decision on building a tunnel under the Bering Strait to connect the railway infrastructures of Russia and North America should be made before 2017, Russian Railways president Vladimir Yakunin told journalists Saturday, Interfax reported.

"I am sure that Russia needs to develop railway services in the Far East and Kamchatka, and I believe a decision on building [a tunnel under the Bering Strait] should be made within the next three to five years. I mean a decision should be made that this should be done in principle," Yakunin said.

"These are not just dreams. I talked about this when I first took this office," he said.

Yakunin said that five years after he became the Russian Railways president, he was approached by some U.S. business people who suggested that research should be done on building such a link.

"As a matter of fact, a design of this project is being worked on now," he said. "I think it should take 10 to 15 years [to implement]."

The project can be done only based on multilateral cooperation between various countries, Yakunin said. "America should be on the one side and Russia on the other. China is interested as well, and so multilateral cooperation is inevitable," he said.

According to InterBering, an Alaska-based company promoting the project, the proposed 103-kilometer tunnel would cost up to $30 billion to construct and would be part of a total rail infrastructure project on both sides that could cost $100 billion and create up to 50,000 jobs

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Join Russia and USA by Rail Tunnels under the Bering Strait?



By rail, from New York to Moscow, and on to London! Only a 10,000 kilometer gap to fill in this bird's eye view of a trans Bering rail link. Map: Victor Razbegin

Russia’s Urals oil has been over $100 a barrel for a year now.
The country’s budgets are balanced. Debt is low. Savings are piling up. Russians are getting their pre-recession mojo back.
On the consumer end, sales of foreign cars made in Russia jumped 90 percent during the first quarter of 2012 over last year.
In the Kremlin, leaders are thinking big again.
In rapid succession, the government leaked a plan to create a “super agency” to develop the Russian Far East; President-elect Vladimir Putin vowed to spend $17 billion a year for new and improved railroads, and Vladimir Yakunin, president of Russian Railways, promoted a think big plan — a rail and tunnel link connecting Russia and the United States.
“It is not a dream,” Yakunin, a close ally of Mr. Putin, told reporters last week. “I am convinced that Russia needs the development of areas of the Far East, Kamchatka. I think that the decision to build must be made within the next three-five years.”
Next year, Russia’s railroad czar will open one big leg on the trip toward the Bering Strait – an 800 kilometer rail line to Yakutsk, capital of Sakha Republic, a mineral rich area larger than Argentina.



Moscow-born Fyodor Soloview lives in Anchorage, Alaska, where he lobbies for uniting his two homelands, Russia and the United States, with rail tunnels under the Bering Strait. Photo: Soloview

 

But the 270,000 residents of Yakutsk do not want to live at the dead end of a spur line. They dream of five kilometer long freight trains rolling past their city, carrying Chinese goods to North America, and North American coal and manufactured products to Russia and China.

From their city, 450 kilometers south of the Arctic Circle, passenger tickets could be sold west to London, and east to New York.

With the West’s swelling population of aging affluent retirees, what better gift for Mom and Dad than a one-month train trip, rolling across the International Dateline, traveling by rail three quarters of the way around the world? A TransBering rail voyage would make the TransSiberian and the TransCanada look like short hops.
To push thinking along, Yakutsk hosted a trans Bering rail conference last August. Engineers showed charts indicating that the tunnels under the Bering Strait would be 103 kilometers long, about twice the length of the tunnel under the English Channel. Unlike Europe’s “Chunnel,” there are two islands along the Bering route – geographical factors that would ease construction and allow for ventilation and emergency access.



For now, the only trains in Alaska run from Seward on the coast 760 kilometers into the interior, carrying tourists to Denali National Park and freight to two military bases. Photo: Fyodor Soloview

 

A trans Bering rail link was first seriously proposed by Czar Nicholas II in 1905. One century later, with the rise of China and the explosion of Asian manufacturing, some Russian economists believe that the day is near when a rail link to North America up would be economically viable.
The current price tag for the missing 10,000 kilometers, tunnel included: $100 billion. Freight fees are estimated at $11 billion a year.
Russian Railways estimates that a Bering Strait tunnel could eventually handle 3 percent of the world’s freight cargo. Yakunin says that China is interested in the project. At a railway meeting in Moscow Thursday, Mr. Putin said that freight traffic on a main Siberian line, the Baikal-Amur Mainline, is expected to nearly triple by 2020.

To critics who worry about harsh winter weather, Russian Railways notes that since 1915, the company has been running passenger and freight trains year round to Murmansk, located 300 miles north of the Arctic Circle. The proposed route for a tunnel under the Bering Strait would pass 50 kilometers south of the Arctic Circle.



Trans Bering rail promoters envisage building feeder lines to connect 'stranded' mineral deposits and to allow shipment of freight between North American and Russia, China, Japan and the Korean peninsula. Map: InterBering

For a tunnel linking two continents, support has to be generated on the North American side. In Alaska, Fyodor Soloview, a native of Moscow, recently formed InterBering, a private group to lobby for rail construction to the Bering Strait.
“We can ship cargo between two the continents by rail,” Soloview said by telephone Thursday from his office in Anchorage. “Once the Bering tunnel is built, it will convert the entire world to different thinking.”
Yakunin estimates that the Russian side of a trans Bering railroad would take 10 to 15 years to build. That could fit into the political calendar of his friend Mr. Putin. On May 7, Mr. Putin will be inaugurated for a new six year term. He has left open the possibility of running in 2018 for another six year term.
So Russian Railways may have the political cover for another 12 years.
The question is whether oil prices will stay high enough to build a tunnel linking America and Asia.
If so, Washington’s diplomatic reset with Moscow could be welded in steel.



To reconnect Asia and North America -- after a 15,000-year separation -- engineers would dig two 103-kilometer long tunnels, each about twice as long as the rail tunnels opened under the English Channel in 1994. Diagrams: Victor Razbegin



On the North American side, almost 5,000 kilometer to track would have to be laid to connect with the existing North American freight network: east from the Bering Strait to Fairbanks, Alaska, and then southeast to Fort Nelson, British Columbia, Canada. Map: InterBering

 

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