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China May Build an Undersea Train To America 348

New submitter howtokilltime sends this news from the Washington Post: "China is planning to build a train line that would, in theory, connect Beijing to the United States. According to a report in the Beijing Times, citing an expert at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, Chinese officials are considering a route that would start in the country's northeast, thread through eastern Siberia and cross the Bering Strait via a 125-mile long underwater tunnel into Alaska."
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China May Build an Undersea Train To America

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  • Oh, to ALASKA! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RevWaldo ( 1186281 ) on Saturday May 10, 2014 @09:39AM (#46966135)
    Not America proper. You had us worried for a minute there, guys.

    • So . . . do the Chinese have the technology to get past Sarah Palin . . . ?

    • I would assume their aim would be to keep going through alaska and join up with the main american rail network in canada. Just going to alaska would seem rather pointless.

  • by confused one ( 671304 ) on Saturday May 10, 2014 @09:41AM (#46966149)
    This project, a bridge tunnel between Alaska and either Russia or China, has been discussed for decades. It would be an awesome idea and a massive undertaking. To date, no one has actually done it because of the easy access to air travel, cheap ocean freight, and the expense of building a 100+ mile bridge in some of the harshest environment known to man.
    • Older than dirt. (Score:5, Informative)

      by westlake ( 615356 ) on Saturday May 10, 2014 @10:41AM (#46966467)

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

      A syndicate of American railroad magnates proposed in 1904 (via a French spokesman) a Siberian-Alaskan railroad from Cape Prince Wales in Alaska through a tunnel under the Bering Strait and across northeastern Siberia to Irkutsk via Cape Deshnev, Verkhnekolymsk and Yakutsk. The proposal was for a 90-year lease, and exclusive mineral rights for 8 miles (13 km) each side of the right-of-way. It was debated by officials and finally turned down on March 20, 1907.


      Aside from the obvious technical challenges of building two 40-kilometre (25 mi) bridges or a more than 80-kilometre (50 mi) tunnel across the strait, another major challenge is that, as of 2011, there is nothing on either side of the Bering Strait to connect the bridge to.

      The Russian side, in particular, is severely lacking in infrastructure, without any highways for almost 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) (the nearest is M56) and no railroads or paved highways for over 3,200 kilometres (2,000 mi) in any direction from the strait.

      On the American side, at least 800 kilometres (500 mi) of highways or railways would have to be constructed in order to connect to the American transport network

      Bering Strait crossing []

    • I've seen the project discussed for decades too, this is the first time the headline overtly states that China would consider paying for it...

  • Good on them. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Truth_Quark ( 219407 ) on Saturday May 10, 2014 @09:53AM (#46966203) Journal
    They've got the money and the manpower. Nationalism is the only resource that lack of may stop them. Projects such as these and their moon base plans are money well spent.
    • Eh the Chinese are hugely nationalistic, what are you talking about. I get the feeling that some people seriously think the country is some kind of communist utopia.

    • Re:Good on them. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 10, 2014 @10:11AM (#46966319)

      It's better they build this then those giant empty cities. If it brings revenue to their 'socialist/communist' state... republic, oligarchial welfare state, whatever it is it will benefit people. Also modern marvels of engineering are cool. Regardless of who or what builds them.

      I'm not really attacking China's economic model. But I am not sure really what to call it. But this could be a much better thing for a Nation like China to do then what it's been doing.

    • In what way is a tunnel that connects two places nobody wants to travel between "money well spent"?

      For freight, ships are both far more efficient and cheaper.

  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by man-element ( 3527915 ) on Saturday May 10, 2014 @10:06AM (#46966281)
    Are they building this tunnel to move cargo less efficiently than a cargo ship or to move people less efficiently than an airliner?
    • by CAIMLAS ( 41445 )


      The "nothing compares to the bandwidth of a minivan full of tapes" maxim applies here. Specifically, it applies to the length of time it takes for a cargo ship to transgress the Pacific.

      Rail can move a large number of people faster than a plane can.
      Rail can also move a relatively small volume of cargo faster than ships can.

      They want to be able to get R&D and "latest greatest" products and similar over here ASAP so that they don't lose out to fledgeling US industry which is popping up to deal wit

  • Deja Vu (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    This was an actual thing on Seaquest DSV.

    Though in practicality, the bering straight crossing gets proposed every year by Russia or some other billionaire in Asia-Pacific, but never from the US side.

    There are plenty of technical problems but I think the founding problem is that we, as humans, have not mastered the sea, there's no undersea colonies, therefor there is no practical reason to have an undersea transportation network. You think oil spills are a bad idea, and derailments are a fact of life, imagin

  • This is a ridiculous project and will never get build. There are far cheaper and far more practical ways to get people to and from China/America.

    All that being said, if they do waste lots of money building this, I'll be one of the first on it. It sounds like it would be the best train ride on earth!

  • Nope (Score:3, Informative)

    by koan ( 80826 ) on Saturday May 10, 2014 @10:14AM (#46966339)

    Newly compiled Russian and U.S. seismological data support an independent Bering block in motion relative to the North American plate. This motion is likely to be driven by the westward extrusion of southwestern Alaska, resulting from compression in southern Alaska due to subduction of the Pacific plate and terrane accretion. Seismicity extends from central Alaska, through the Bering Strait, and into Chukotka. In eastern Chukotka several southwest trends are evident, some of which continue through the Koryak Highlands to Kamchatka. The seismicity outlines the Bering block, which includes most of the Bering Sea, Chukchi Peninsula, Seward Peninsula, and parts of western Alaska. Focal mechanisms, young basaltic volcanism, and normal faults in western Alaska and Chukotka indicate that the Bering Strait is under northeast-southwest extension. This, in conjunction with thrust faulting in the Koryak Highlands, indicates that the Bering block is rotating clockwise relative to the North American plate. []

    Also the Aleutian islands are quite active, that entire area is active.

  • Facepalm! Good idea, let's build a tunnel on the sea floor that crosses tectonic plates, what could go wrong? []
  • That is one heck of a pipe they are talking about. I won't be using such a tunnel and I'll bet that it would be a financial blunder and practical nightmare. Does any American actually want such a tunnel?
    • That is one heck of a pipe they are talking about. I won't be using such a tunnel and I'll bet that it would be a financial blunder and practical nightmare. Does any American actually want such a tunnel?

      I wouldn't get into it, but I would prefer that my goods come through a tunnel on a train that will have to be running some kind of relatively clean fuel (if not on electricity) by definition given the environment, than on a container ship powered by a diesel engine running on bunker fuel.

      I mean, I'd prefer they didn't have to come from China at all, but that's a whole other discussion.

  • Planes are faster, cheaper, and safer for passenger traffic at that distance.

    Possibly they want the underwater tunnel for cargo trains? Then you're competing with container ships which are themselves very cheap though possibly not as fast.

    The only way a train beats a plane is if the tunnel is a vacuum. And that radically complicates the engineering especially if you're putting it under the ocean.

    And that doesn't even address the political problems.

    Tensions with china are increasing and then you have this tr

    • Planes are faster, cheaper, and safer for passenger traffic at that distance.

      As fossil fuels become more and more expensive, the price of air travel is going to go up. Way up.

      Makes sense to being looking at other options today, assuming they'd roll out in 50 - 75 years.

      • Entirely theoretical.

        the people predicting spikes in oil prices have been wrong for about 100 years... which is about as long as they've made those claims.

        The current spike in prices has more to do with politics then it does with resource scarcity. Remove the extra taxes put on oil over the last 10 years and relax the regulations on the oil industry back to what they were ten years ago and you could have 2 dollar a gallon gas.

        Or maintain the taxes and regulation and pay upwards of 2.50 in nothing but govern

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      Planes are cheaper?
      This place really has gone downhill. People used to be careful not to expose their lack of a high school education but now it just does not seem to matter.
      • You think a trans Atlantic train from China to Seattle is cheaper then a commercial airliner?

        And you think I am ignorant?

        Either you don't know what our air network costs per passenger or you don't know what the rail network costs per passenger.

        There is a reason Amtrak for example gets government subsidies but most airlines do not.

        Passenger rail over long distances is not competitive with airplanes for price or speed.

        And doing it from china to the United States is moronic for PASSENGER traffic.

        For freight, i

  • What is the point of a passenger train to Alaska? There is not even a pasenger train from LA to Anchorage. From what I have seen there is only bus/plane/ferry travel from USA to Alaska.
    • so the Chinese start high speed rail companies in the USA, what's the problem? we're far too lazy and stupid to be hooking up the big cities in our country this way, should have done it in the 90s

  • I rather like the status quo where they need a usable navy to get to resources that they will eventually want to take by force. They're about out of fresh water and other key resources aren't far behind.

  • Could they build a tunnel as a long conduit on the sea floor, perhaps giving it some flexibility to deal with the seismic activity in that area?

  • The last time we had a bridge up there, the USA was invaded by Siberians! Come on, Americans, get your heads out of your butts and fight back!
    • what's the problem, among the invaders will be hot asian chicks (and for you gay fellers hot asian studs)

      I say bring it on

  • by daninaustin ( 985354 ) on Saturday May 10, 2014 @12:32PM (#46967241)
    No, they won't. Just because it can be done doesn't mean it should, or will. Alaska is too far away and it would cost too much. China won't build it, Russia won't build it and we won't build it.
  • I don't think the entire line needs to be a mag lev train but the connection between continents should be. The trip under the straight should be a short as possible with a little noise as possible.

  • On one hand, you can look at this and wonder why anyone would want to undertake the incredible expense of a sub oceanic tunnel across the Bering Strait. What, with Anchorage already housing one of the world's busiest international airports, particularly for cargo aircraft.

    However, completion of such a tunnel would have profound, long-reaching consequences, both negative and positive:

    Chinese manufactured goods would presumably have shipping time cut in half. Even given the considerable distances, a 2km lon

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