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Kolymaaa
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
i recently watched a fascinating program on the discovery channel debating the feasability of building a bridge across the bering straight -



http://dsc.discovery.com/convergence/engineering/beringstrait/interactive/interactive.html

there is also a great article on wikipedia about the plan:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bering_Strait_Bridge

i suppose the main obstacle to this plan is not actually the bridge itself, (or tunnel) but actually the huge distance of rail/road connections that would also have to be built to accompany it?

as far as i know the nearest connection on the american side is Fairbanks, AK although, the rail connection would not serve high speed trains. Likewise, i suspect the alaska highway perhaps would not be large enough to sustain the huge amounts of transport such a project might involve?

on the russian side, the road link finishes in the city of Magadan, on the sea of okhotsk. Which is several thousand miles from the strait. Once again, perhaps the road is not big enough to sustain such a large volume of transport.

as the article says, it could be financially viable, if it carried a gas/oil pipeline with it, enabling the Americas to take advantage of the huge siberian oil and gas reserves. It would also mean much quicker transit between asia and america, than having to send a ship across the pacific.

lets assume the distance between the two nearest cities of any size (magadan and fairbanks/anchorage) is 2000 miles:



a high speed rail link could feasibly reach these two cities in 10 hours (although 20 is perhaps more realistic, average speed of 100mph)

two such isolated places as magadan and fairbanks could suddenly become huge centres of commerce, and tourism.

however, a lorry (truck), lets say averages 40mph including stops etc, would take 50 hours.

still much quicker than a trans-pacific ocean liner. Although, i cant really see much trade between magadan and fairbanks. Realistically we should look at the distance between the two nearest large scale metropolitain areas - Los Angeles and Beijing, which is 6500 miles approx. Plus, the states has no high speed rail connection, so perhaps that would have to stop at Vancouver BC?



so we are talking about passengers being able to travel from beijing to Vancouver BC which is around 5800 miles, in lets say, 58 hours average speed 100mph.

Three days on a train versus 10 hours on an aeroplane? i cant see many takers, so perhaps the train route would be best served as essential an industrial one, with the odd through touristic passenger train, stopping in magadan, perhaps Anadyr (a small town near the straight), Fairbanks, and finally Vancouver BC. I assume that would take upto 6 days to complete the journey?

Truck/lorry transportation we are talking about at least a week?, Beijing - LA.

anyway, sounds like a fascinating plan - would love to hear what you guys think, or any updated information that i've miscalculate about distances, or local areas of population would be great -

additionally, there is talk of a land/rail tunnel connecting Japan to the russian far east island of Sakhalin, know as the Hokkaidō Sakhalin Asia Tunnel, involving a tunnel or bridge between sakhalin and the japanese northern island of hokkaido, and then a short 3 km tunnel to join sakhalin to the russian mainland.

- If this was done, it would clearly make the bering option much more attractive - Connecting Japan to the Americas, with a spur somewhere in the russian far east above Vladivostock.



perhaps Korea could also be connected?

again, any information on current rail/road links in this area would be great.

i suppose at the end of the day, this link is really still fantasy, but the more you look into it, the more realistic it actually becomes!

the only thing the documentary did not discuss, was the possibility of a bridge spanning the aleutian islands. Perhaps this route is not possible? although the ocean is very shallow all the way across to Kamchatka, and there is less risk of the dangers of ice. The drawback with this, is clearly the length of bridges needed, and that it only arrives to kamchatka, perhaps a bridge to magadan would still be needed to span the sea of okhotsk, which is ice bound alot of the year as far as i know. So perhaps that is a non-starter. Interesting though.



kev
 

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Well, to stay ontopic, i think a bridge could be technically feasible, but i doubt if there is ever an economical need for it. The bridge is literally in the middle of nowhere, and railheads like Jakutsk, Magadan or Anchorage are also both far from the Bering Strait, but also far from other civilization. Constructing such a link would be mindblowing, and multiple times bigger than anything else ever constructed.
 

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Kolymaaa
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
but i doubt if there is ever an economical need for it.
chris, there is clearly not a need for it, but an advantage? yes certainly. Remember, the whole of the world would potentially benefit from this. You could potentially send freight from patagonia, to northern scotland, saving weeks in travel time from Asia/the Americas, and also not having to pay fees to cross the suez canal, or indeed the panama canal.

if the whole of the world benefits, perhaps the whole of the world can cover the costs too?

obviously, it seems very unlikely it will happen in the near future, but certainly in the long term future i think its just a matter of time.

if japan does ever build the land connection to russia, it suddenly becomes much more viable, with frieght trains arriving from japan to the states in only 2-3 days, as opposed to weeks across the pacific in a ship.

if an oil/gas pipeline was accompanied, The americas could base its energy consumption on cheap, more stable resources in siberia, eliminating the need for consumption in the unstable and fluctuating middle east market.
 

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Nonhyphenated-American
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Don't forget that even though the nearest standard-gauge railroad to the Bering Straits on the USA end is a short distance west of Fairbanks, AK, the ARR (Alaska Railroad) is *isolated* from the rest of the North American railroad network, interchanging with it via car-float barge ferries from Seattle.

The closest point on the North American rail network is at Fort Nelson, BC, although it would be likeliest that if such a surface railroad were to be built that it would go via Fort Saint James, BC. Both are quite some distance from the Fairbanks, AK area.

On the other end, you do have the minor issue of the incompatible coupling system and track gauge of Russian railroads, although from what I am aware of, Chinese railroads are 100% compatible with those of North America. That could be mitigated if a standard gauge mainline were to be built and/or at least some of Russia's network were to be regauged between the strait and at least China, with one or more totally new and/or regauged mainlines continuing westward towards Europe.

Mike
 

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Contrary Lite
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The question is whether, once built, will it be cheaper to ship things from China to the USA by sea or by the Bering rail link? If it can be economically competitive with maritime shipping then there might be something to this. Of course it would require enormous cooperation between China, Russia, Canada and the USA with issues surrounding who will pay for it, who will build it and who will benefit from it.
 

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Kolymaaa
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Basincreek said:
The question is whether, once built, will it be cheaper to ship things from China to the USA by sea or by the Bering rail link?
its just a guess, but i suppose it might be comparable, if the freight was going to the west coast of the states, to a trans-pacific boat crossing? However it would arrive there much quicker, which would give it an advantage for heavier goods that need quicker transit, that cannot be transported by aeroplane.

additionally, goods going by ship to the east coast of the states would clearly be better served by rail, as currently to pass by the panama canal the cost is astronomical.

i think the main economic advantage to this project, would be the oil and gas pipeline connection - providing the americas with readily accesible oil from siberia.

mgk920 said:
Don't forget that even though the nearest standard-gauge railroad to the Bering Straits on the USA end is a short distance west of Fairbanks, AK, the ARR (Alaska Railroad) is *isolated* from the rest of the North American railroad network, interchanging with it via car-float barge ferries from Seattle.
yes interesting, do you know how far the network extends toward the bering strait?

on the russian side, i know that magadan is connected to jakutsk by a road known as the kolyma highway, but no to directly to vladivostok, which would be more useful? im not sure how far the trans-siberian rail network extends
 

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Islander
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I watched that documentary, the project is interesting, and although I'm not sure, if it would really be feasible, I'd like to see it built. :) I remember once I was in Germany, one guy was advertising some newspaper and convincing me this bridge is the only thing that can save German economy. :lol:

on the russian side, i know that magadan is connected to jakutsk by a road known as the kolyma highway, but no to directly to vladivostok, which would be more useful? im not sure how far the trans-siberian rail network extends
I don't think this Kolyma "Highway" is really passable. There are only the Trans-Siberian railway and BAM (Baikal-Amur railway), which runs parallel with the Trans-Siberian railway.
 

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Not sure if it's possible from Russian to N.A. Gauge but I know there are trains that are able to change their gauge and run on two different gauge tracks.
 

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Nonhyphenated-American
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yes interesting, do you know how far the network extends toward the bering strait?
I mentioned above that the physically closest point to the Bering Strait that is ON the North American railroad network is at Fort Nelson, BC. However, if such a connection is ever built, it would almost certainly go via a partially graded routing extending from an active railhead at Fort Saint James, BC. Both places are a looooong ways from the Strait.

The railroads of Canada, Mexico and the USA are 100% compatible with each other and interchange freely between themselves along with extensive cross-border ownerships.

Mike
 

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Kolymaaa
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
verso said:
I don't think this Kolyma "Highway" is really passable.
yes, you're right verso,

wikipedia article said:
The road is in a state of disrepair and is not traversable by standard road vehicles because of washed-out bridges and sections of road reclaimed by streams. During winter, frozen water actually helps river crossings.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kolyma_Highway

it does give a map of the russian autoroute network, and clearly past magadan there is nothing. Neither is there anything other than the kolyma highway south from magadan. So any transport route up toward the strait would either involve large scale upgrading of the kolyma highway, or indeed, need to be started from scratch.



mgk920 said:
if such a connection is ever built, it would almost certainly go via a partially graded routing extending from an active railhead at Fort Saint James, BC. Both places are a looooong ways from the Strait.
thanks for the info mike, although it would only have to connect the two systems, the North American railroad, and the alaska rail road? and then on from the end of the alaska railroad to the strait. Not sure what kind of terrain there is, but im sure its not going to be a very hospitable area to build in. The kolyma highway was apparently built by gulag slave workers under stalin, and their bones actually form part of the highway.
 

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From the nearest Russian all season road (near Jakutsk), it's still 3000 kilometers to the Bering Strait. Jakutsk - Beijing is actually shorter than that. We are talking about an area where temperatures are extremely low, down to -50 celcius, in conditions that driving could be deadly.
 

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thanks for the info mike, although it would only have to connect the two systems, the North American railroad, and the alaska rail road? and then on from the end of the alaska railroad to the strait. Not sure what kind of terrain there is, but im sure its not going to be a very hospitable area to build in. The kolyma highway was apparently built by gulag slave workers under stalin, and their bones actually form part of the highway.
I doubt that it would be any more inhospitable for railroad construction than it was to build the Alaska Highway during WWII. The Alaska Highway has been majorly upgraded, paved and unkinked in a steady, progressive manner ever since then, too. Such a connector railroad would run northwestward from Fort Saint James, BC past Deese Lake to about the Teslin, YT area, continuing roughly along the Alaska Highway back into the USA. It would then join the ARR (Alaska Railroad) at its end at Eielson AFB, located just southeast of North Pole, AK, then follow the ARR through Fairbanks and diverge from it in the area of Tenana, AK, a short distance west of Fairbanks.

From there, it would likely follow the Tenana and Yukon Rivers to the Koyukuk, AK area, where it would diverge towards the Seward Peninsula.

The going should not be that hard, other than for the rugged climate and permafrost along the way. Due to its true remoteness and the pristine nature of some of the land that that route traverses, as well as the normal weather conditions, I would expect such a railroad to be electrically powered.

I have no idea of the geographic and geologic conditions on the Russian side, except for the major plate boundary that is about 1500-2000 km west of the Strait. The Bering Strait itself is geologically stable.

Mike
 

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...rodjen na Balkanu...
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hm... for us skyscraper and transport fans idea of that bridge is stunning :) but i can't see much economical reasons for all this trouble...
as someone said... low temperatures can be a problem, then there is an enormous distance of roads which should be built to connect it... i just can't believe this would be a better option for transport anything...
ships are slower but more reliable and can carry much more cargo comparing to fuel consumption...

who knows... maybe future technology and highspeed railway will somehow enable travel between LA and Tokyo in a matter of 20-30 hours :) even then i think air travel will be faster,cheaper and comfortable...
 

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I hope this really does get built, but I don't think it will. Who knows maybe with construction cost down, and all the money coming in from oil. Perhaps it might happen.
 

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Kolymaaa
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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I hope this really does get built, but I don't think it will. Who knows maybe with construction cost down, and all the money coming in from oil. Perhaps it might happen.
I really believe that it's a question of when, not if. The Russian government is clearly envisaging it at some point.

One of the interesting things is that the curvature of the Earth mean the railroad would not be too far of straight strangely enough. Flattened out maps are very misleading and make it look like a big arch.

There are obvious financial advantages to it, the Chukotia region of Russian is oil rich (indeed Roman Abramovich made his fortune there as far as I'm aware) but then I guess there are probably advantages of going to Mars too :cheers:

Some fantastic maps and info can be found here if anyone is interested

http://www.interbering.com/Bering-railroad-maps.html
 
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