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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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  • Re:What an idea (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 10, 2014 @09:57AM (#46966233)

    Both sides of the Bering strait are part of the north american plate.

  • 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.

  • by Blaskowicz ( 634489 ) on Saturday May 10, 2014 @10:17AM (#46966359)

    Please, extremely long tunnels already exist such as the one between Hokkaido and Honshu.

  • 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 []

  • Re:A nice idea... (Score:5, Informative)

    by chrisgeleven ( 514645 ) on Saturday May 10, 2014 @10:45AM (#46966481) Homepage

    Personally traveling to and through Boston is a 100x better than it used to be because of the Big Dig. Not to mention it reconnected two parts of the city that the original above ground highway effectively severed from each other, allowing for an insane amount of development in the seaport area since ( The entire area has been transformed.

  • Re:What an idea (Score:5, Informative)

    by ebno-10db ( 1459097 ) on Saturday May 10, 2014 @12:27PM (#46967209)

    Train freight is far cheaper than shipping.

    No, water is always the cheapest way to ship things long distance. In fact it's not unusual for container ships from China to use NY harbor (just take a look from the Narrows) in spite of the much longer distance than shipping to the West Coast and then shipping cross-country by rail.

    The problem is the proverbial "slow boat to China" (or from China these days). A trans-Pacific cargo ship generally takes around 3 weeks. You could steam faster, but the fuel consumption would rise dramatically.

  • Re:What an idea (Score:5, Informative)

    by wiggles ( 30088 ) on Saturday May 10, 2014 @12:50PM (#46967381)

    >My question is what purpose it would solve. By the time the route is finished, there won't be any way for the US to import anything from China. Food exports from USA to China, perhaps, as an attempt to pay the interest on what is owed?

    Your post displays a lack of knowledge of how the trade deficit works.

    In a nutshell, we don't borrow money from China. We buy goods and services from China, and we use US Dollars for the transaction.

    China can then spend those US dollars in the American economy - perhaps to buy American goods in exchange - but they choose instead to put those greenbacks into US treasuries, which is the single safest investment in the world. Other countries would sell those greenbacks on the currency markets to obtain their native currencies, causing currency prices to fluctuate accordingly, but China has decided to keep their exchange rates at artificial levels that advantage them and disadvantage the rest of the world, especially the United States. But I digress.

    The US treasuries that China owns can't be all called in at once. They can be sold on the open market, which technically could cause US treasury rates to rise, making borrowing more expensive for the United States, but in all likelihood they would not impact those rates by very much. The important thing here is that China can't roll up to the US Treasury with a briefcase (well, okay - trucks) full of bonds that haven't matured yet and expect to cash in. It doesn't work that way. While the US does pay interest on those treasuries, the interest rates are quite low right now.

    There's a lot more to this - but suffice to say, macroeconomics is not microeconomics - things you need to take care of at a household level often don't mesh with what governments have to do in order to keep the books balanced. It's a common misconception that the US national debt is necessarily a bad thing.

  • Re:What an idea (Score:3, Informative)

    by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Saturday May 10, 2014 @01:19PM (#46967637)

    Ukraine didn't "take" Crimea either, it was assigned to their jurisdiction when both were completely subservient to the USSR, and then amicably* left with them when the republics separated. That doesn't seem to be stopping Putin now; neither does international law. Our missiles probably would, though.

    However (see my other comment in this thread), Crimea is close and accessible, while Alaska is remote and in fact on another continent. Crimea is relatively easy for them to take and then defend. Alaska would be very difficult for Russia to either take or defend; that was largely why they sold it in the first place.

  • Re:What an idea (Score:4, Informative)

    by BasilBrush ( 643681 ) on Saturday May 10, 2014 @03:11PM (#46968253)

    sigh, the mission accomplished was a gaff in that the mission WAS accomplished, for that ship that he was on.

    False. In the speech accompanying the picture Bush claimed "major combat operations" in Iraq were over. He was wrong. And that was the context of the banner. []

    on the other hand obama did in fact make a statement saying terrorism is over

    Also false.

  • Re:What an idea (Score:4, Informative)

    by jklovanc ( 1603149 ) on Saturday May 10, 2014 @04:21PM (#46968543)

    Not according to this chart []

On a paper submitted by a physicist colleague: "This isn't right. This isn't even wrong." -- Wolfgang Pauli