Plan for new railroads in US (state of Alaska), Canada and Russian Federation (Siberia), and a tunnel connection between them under the Bering Strait.
See more maps and read the stories about this project.
35,000 - 50,000
in the building of railroad on each side;
- plus workers in the factories producing the steel, cement, copper and aluminum wire, power plants, locomotives, and other necessary components;
- plus hundreds of thousands of jobs will be generated after the construction.
Alaska-Canada railroad -
up to $20 billion
Russian railroad -
up to $50 billion
Bering Tunnel -
up to $30 billion
up to $100 billion
DEVELOPMENT OF THE TERRITORY:
The construction of a development corridor extending
50 miles (80 km)
on each side of the railroad, can transform the regions in Canada, Alaska and Russia in its entirety. Power lines, fiber-optic lines, and where necessary, freshwater pipes would be encased within the corridor. Cities, population, manufacturing, and scientific agriculture would be fertilized and harvested in this corridor as well.
Up to 100 million tons
of freight traffic each year between Europe, Russia, China, Japan, South Korea, Canada and USA, as well as supplying oil, gas and electricity from Siberia to the US and Canada.
running through the Bering Strait would allow uninterrupted travel at
280 miles/hour (450 km/hour)
from Europe's Atlantic coast to the southern tip of South America.
The Bering Strait rail and tunnel project can help enhance and expand prosperity for the 21st Century by linking the world's greatest industrial nations with the vast untapped mineral resources of the Arctic.
To the south of Alaska and Canada, stands the continental United States, with the greatest economy on Earth, and it too badly needs resources. Building a corridor, linked across the Bering Strait, will provide access to our Arctic resources of oil, gas, precious minerals of all kinds, and freshwater. This vital link will greatly enhance the prosperity of the world.
I envision the construction of a railroad around the world. Travel is now the world's number-one industry, and such a trip would be the most coveted of all travel accomplishments. This would include a tunnel across the Bering Strait which can accommodate both pleasure travel and especially the movement of resources and power.
I've supported connecting the continents by rail. This is going to change the world, and it is easy to do. All it takes is a decision.
Walter J. Hickel was twice elected as Alaska's governor, serving as the state's second governor, 1966-69, and again in 1990-94; he served for nearly two years as President Richard Nixon's first Secretary of the Interior (1969-70).
The dream of an interhemispheric rail connection linking America with Asia across the Bering Strait remains as visionary now as when first proposed a century ago.
The opening of the Channel Tunnel connecting Britain to the European continent has made it even more so. This monumental European achievement highlights both the global challenge we face and the vast potential in opening our own secure new avenue for trade and communication between three great nations - America, Canada and Russia - and other Pacific Rim economies.
The recent disruption in air transportation caused by the Eyjafjallajökull Volcano in Iceland likewise demonstrates the unreliability of air links and the desirability of land based trade connections.
If the planning, construction and utilization of an Interhemispheric railroad connecting Alaska and Russia across the Bering Strait could be launched merely by a chance meeting of leaders, a simple handshake, and the words "Let's do it!" - it would be truly historic.
But in reality, major development projects on this scale come only after much preparation by others dedicated to an enlightened economic vision - and by private investors prepared to recognize opportunity and grasp it.
Consider, for instance, what it took to accomplish the 31.4 mile undersea rail Eurotunnel across the English Channel (la Manche, in French) between Britain and France. Construction on this now acclaimed project started in October of 1990 and the tunnel was finally opened for rail travel on May 6, 1994. But all this was preceded by much hard work overseen by two financial and construction groups from the British and French sides. In 1985 they had formed the Channel Tunnel Group/France-Manche (CTG/F-M). Before that, local banks and construction interests had joined together to lobby for the tunnel based on a 1975 study which included eleven volumes of supporting materials.
Of course, since 1957 Britain and France have been partner nations in the European Union and its predecessor. There is at present nothing approaching that level of cooperation between the United States and Russia. At times there indeed seem more issues that divide rather than unite us. But a railroad connecting our two great countries could be vastly profitable for both and speed the movement of cargo and passenger traffic. This would also make available rich mineral deposits and put new perspective on the need to get along more harmoniously. Something far removed from the old Cold War climate.
Russia could sell its abundant gas and oil to North America, adding new and convenient resources to our energy marketplace. Also, for Russia, getting fees for transit cargos from China and the rest of Asia would be lucrative.
But perhaps most importantly, economic growth would take place along new and existing railway lines in eastern Russia - with new infrastructure and an expanded labor force serving the rail network. Towns on both sides of the Bering Strait would grow along with new service companies and international joint ventures. While all this would make for economic growth, it would also help right the historic imbalance of power between Moscow and the far eastern region of Russia - something which could in itself greatly benefit free trade. As coastal jurisdictions opt to adopt policies which benefit their populations, the Moscow government would come under increased pressure to relax its trade policies.
In August 2011 the Intercontinental Magistral Eurasia - North America (conference) held in the Russian city of Yakutsk agreed, without delay or even a signed agreement with the United States, to connect the existing Russian Baikal-Amur railway to the Bering Strait. This will involve laying 2,400 miles of rail through undeveloped regions of Siberia to the Chukotka Peninsula by the year 2030. Later, if agreement with the U.S. government is reached, an undersea tunnel could be built to extend the rail lines onward to Alaska.
On November 15, 2011 Russian President Dmitry Medvedev attended a ceremony initiating construction of a new railway line shortening the trip along the Baikal-Amur route to Yakutsk. This "golden track" portion will link the towns of Berkatit along the Baikal Amur Railway and Nizhny Bestyakh, 15 kilometers (about 10 miles) from Yakutsk.
"We also have impressive plans to further develop railway services in the North, which we hope will come true in the coming decade," said the Russian president.
Medvedev mentioned at the ceremony that once a railway crossing is built over the Lena River, the rail line will reach to Yakutsk while another line will run from Nizhny Bestyakh to Magadan and then on to the Bering Strait.
"The crossing will be built by all means. Have no doubts about that," he said.
The railway project in Russia is being financed with state funds and is managed by the joint stock company Russian Railways - though details haven't been announced. The entire cost of an undersea Bering Strait tunnel project would depend on many things, of course. The final bill for the tunnel between Britain and France, for instance, was 80% over initial estimates; in current prices that would be $17.5 billion. But in the case of the Eurotunnel both governments had extensive networks of inland railroads, so the major need was a connecting tunnel.
For the United States, Russia and Canada roughly 5,500 miles of new railroads would first need to be built, followed by the tunnel itself, at an estimated total cost of perhaps $100 billion or more. In comparison, this is a fraction of the Iraq War cost.
And while in Russia it does not seem to be a question of who will handle the financing, a weak U.S. economy combined with tepid interest in Canada means that finding money to build the North American section of the international railroad could be an issue.
This is why we formed the InterBering Construction Promotion Company and established this website. We at InterBering believe that the entire project on the American continent can be financed through private funding, without the financial help of central governments. This is in fact the way the Eurotunnel was built. With approval by local territorial governments - if not those in Washington and Ottawa - sufficient money could be found through private investors.
In reality, the planning, construction and utilization of an Interhemispheric railroad connecting Alaska and Russia across the Bering Strait will be launched only after much preparation by those with enlightened economic vision - and by private investors prepared to recognize opportunity and grasp it.
Progressing step by step, we intend to first establish an office in Anchorage where local governments, construction concerns and finance groups can work together to achieve the higher level of communication necessary.
Moreover, in our view the United States and Canada could build a railroad to the Bering Strait several times faster than the Russians will do it through their completely undeveloped Siberian lands. This is because it is possible to initiate North American construction from different places at the same time: from the existing Alaska Railroad in Fairbanks simultaneously in opposite directions (and the construction of a southeastern 80-mile railway from North Pole to Delta Junction with a near a mile-long bridge over the Tanana River is already underway), and from Fort Nelson in Canada to the north.
Coming to the shores of the Bering Strait 10-15 years earlier than the Russians, we could go on to build the entire tunnel (about a 10 year project) with our own financing and labor force, including the portion on Russian territory. That could potentially give us more control over key aspects such as tunnel maintenance, security, customs and operation schedules - including the possibility of controlling land on the Russian side to house workers, etc.
U.S. Congressional interest in taking over from InterBering the construction of the project could follow, as the many economic benefits become readily apparent - including the hundreds of thousands of new American jobs the project will produce. Building new rail lines and Maglev trains that run at 280 miles per hour, plus producing the steel, cement, copper and aluminum wire, power plants and many other necessary components will involve a vast number of workers.
Alaska will benefit from a through rail connection linking the continental U.S. and Asia because such a railroad will not only help end the isolation of our largest state but will give it increased opportunities to ship liquefied natural gas and oil to vast new markets - and to do so by train rather than by enormously expensive pipelines. The Alaska Department of Transportation might become the single biggest supporter of building a transcontinental railroad.
And just as with the Suez and Panama canals, the country or countries who design and build the Bering Strait tunnel will be the ones who control its traffic, cargos and travelers. This adds a strategic consideration which cannot be overlooked.
As one of the greatest civil engineering projects in history, this Interhemispheric North America-Eurasia railroad could also usher in a new era of American and Russian cooperation. The moment at which American and Russian workers drive in the final spike will be as significant to the world as that World War II moment 68 years ago when our armies linked up across the river Elba in Germany to end a war.