We Do Need The Bering Straits Tunnel/Railroad

Good video on Youtube-SOPS (a Russian think tank) has proposed a Bering straits tunnel’.together with railway extending from Irkutsk to the eastern shore of the straits, then from Alaska south to join the US/Canadian rail system. According to the analysis, the investment would pay back in 12-15 years-and it would enable Eastern Siberia to develop its oil, gas and mineral reserves. Plus, the link up with the US would expand trade between the US, Russia, China, Korea.
Given the billions both countries waste on arms, why not fund this project?
I think we humans need “heroic” type engineering projects, and this would fund thousands of jobs.
Technically, the tunnel is very feasible-all we need is the will and the money.

Who on earth would use this? I doubt there would be many users that far north to justify its cost. Anyway, the gov’ts need to do a use study first before funding such a big project.

Besides, why build that when Sarah can see Russia from her house in Wasilla?

How does the lack of a tunnel to the US prevent Siberia from developing its reserves, especially given that China is going to be a steadily-increasing customer in the years to come?

Last time I was in the store, we didn’t seem to have any problem importing stuff from China…

I don’t get it. The Channel Tunnel has failed to live up to it’s economic pipe dreams. And a Trans-Bering Tunnel would be costlier with a lot less demand.

What are you going to ship via the tunnel? Keep in mind, that you have to factor in the length something is going to take overall. From even most of Eastern Siberia to major cities in the US you are talking about well over 6 thousand miles.

Passengers? Just mentioning it so we can laugh and move on.

The OP mentions oil and gas. Forget it. Those move long distances in bulk via ships and pipelines.

Minerals? You don’t ship the ore. You ship the refined output these distances. You’re basically talking about shipping bulk steel: rolls, beams, etc. Now we can talk real economics. Ocean transit is going to be far, far cheaper. The only advantage rail would have would be in eliminating some loading/unloading steps. For short distances, this is a win for rail. But the thousands of miles we’re talking about, ships win by a large margin.

You keep going down the list: coal, timber products, etc. It’s the same answer: rail to the coast, then ship it, then inland in the US via rail or truck. Shipping something across the ocean, even going the long way to the US east coast, is incredibly cheap for bulk products.

Basically, there is nothing, absolutely nothing, worth shipping those distances that would pay for even maintaining the rail link, forget building it in the first place.

OT: Did Sarah Palin actually say that she could see Russia from her house?

I believe she did.

On topic:

ftg looks to have nailed this one: All the stuff that wants to cross the Bering straits through a tunnel is already traveling by ship. probably much more cheaply than via the very long road/rail haul through Alaska and western Canada.

I don’t think they understand the magnitude of this. The tunnel would need thousands of miles of new track just in North America, across mountains and the tundra. There is no railroad to Alaska or even the Yukon. The closest a train can go is Fort Nelson, British Columbia, which is 1400 miles in a straight line from the straits.

Note that spending billions on arms makes a country less able to afford mega-projects, not the reverse.

And the nearest place in Russia that is even going to get a railway in the near future is Yakutsk, 2800 km (1400 miles) distant. So, yeah, add around 5000 km of railway to the bill. Link from Wikipedia.

If I lived in Alaska, the last place I’d want to visit is Siberia. And* vise versa,* I’m sure.

So they’ll have a railroad to go with their bridge.

In fairness, she said that it was possible to see Russia from some parts of Alaska. Tina Faye parodied that as “I can see Russia from my house”.

Palin said far too many genuinely stupid things to have to make things up.

Are you the same ralph124c who thought the Big Dig was a huge boondoggle? That tunnel was less than 2 miles long, and cost 14 billion dollars.
The US portion of the railway alone would be nearly twice as long as the trans-continental railway construction that spanned the nation in the 19th century, and half of it is across wetlands and muskeg that swallowed bulldozers during the construction of the Alaska Highway. It would cost trillions of dollars, and could never generate the income to justify the cost.

Palin’s actual statement was “They’re our next-door neighbors, and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska.” Which is factually accurate. On the other hand, she had been asked about the Russian invasion of Georgia and what special insights she had about Russia. So it was a pretty stupid answer even if it was correct. Palin was asked about a diplomatic and military issue and the best she had to offer on the subject is that Russia is visible from Alaska. cite

I am not to be confused with any Palin fan, but she did give it more
of a shot than the quote above, per your link:

Of course the last question was a dumb one-- Russian proximity to Alaska
could not be expected to provide any insight into Russian actions in Georgia!
However, It is not always easy, even for a professional politician, to come
up with a snappy answer to every reporter’s every dumb question.

No, Palin blew the whole line of questions. Notice that Gibson asked her a specific question, “Do you believe the United States should try to restore Georgian sovereignty over South Ossetia and Abkhazia?” Now that was an important policy question. Should the United States commit itself to protecting all of the territory Georgia claimed or should Georgia be open to the possibility of negotiating away some of the disputed territory? Hardly an unimportant distinction - it was similar issues over disputed territory that led to World War II. And keep in mind this territory was already occupied by Russia.

And how did Palin answer the question? She didn’t. She said she spoke to Saakashvili and told him she was “committed” to Georgia - without saying what specifically it was she was committing herself to. And keeping an eye on Russia - what does that mean? If Russia invaded Georgia, was Palin going to watch it happen? Enact economic sanctions against Russia? Send military aid to Georgia? Send American military forces to Georgia?

That last one may have seemed unlikely but then Palin went on to say she was in favor of bringing Georgia into NATO - and that would be a full military commitment by the United States to defend Georgia. And this was at a time when Russia was already occupying territory that Georgia claims as its national territory (and which is recognized as Georgian territory by the United States and all other NATO members).

The amazing thing is that Palin’s nonsense about seeing Russia obscured the much more dangerous fact that she was endorsing a nebulous policy that might easily have led to the United States going to war with Russia.

Could just be that I’m a cynic, but that’s pretty much what I’d expect from most politicians. You get a question with some keywords, and you repeat the talking point, whether or not it had any relevance to the question.

But getting back to the OP. Naw, we don’t need it. I think it would be really cool, but somewhat impractical.

I would think the rail line would need snow sheds and tunnels everywhere that it would be north of about 55, otherwise it would just not be usable but for maybe 5 months of the year at most.

Track Guage might be a problem too if they were to go ahead with the project - the US and Russia use different systems.