Thursday, February 23, 2012

Bering Strait Tunnel

The Russian government has given the go-ahead on an ambitious new $65 billion tunnel project that would connect Siberia with Alaska via an underground rail line… If completed, the project will be the longest underwater tunnel in the world.

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 high speed railway and tunnel will be a private public partnership whose economic impact could be startling. 100 million tons of freight could be moved per year using the most efficient known way of transport.

Aside from being a civil engineering marvel, 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.

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 ten giga-watts of electricity by 2020.

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