back to article China wants to build a 200km-long undersea tunnel to America

China likes trains. Its latest idea is to drive a railway route from Beijing to America via Russia, running under the Bering Strait to Alaska, Canada and America. The 8,000 mile route would need two undersea tunnels; one running from Russia to the Big Diomede Island, and one from Little Diomede Island to America – well, Alaska …

  1. Paul J Turner

    Well, okay...

    So long as they run a gold-plated nuclear-powered steam locomotive on it.

    I am fed up of waiting for the trans-Atlantic one.

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: Well, okay...

      A Transatlantic Tunnel, Hurrah!

      Oh, wait...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Well, okay...

        Well we all know that Harry was ahead of the game back then.

      2. kmac499

        Re: Well, okay...

        Well it would be transatlantic sort of, Phileas and Passepartout could still leave the reform club catch the boat to Europe and just keep going arriving at New York Grand Central a while later.. Wouldn't make as interesting a book tho'..

      3. Daniel von Asmuth Bronze badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Well, allright

        A high-speed train from Edinburgh through the chunnel via Paris, Moscow, Bejing, and the Bering tunnel via Anchorage and San Francisco to New York City will be more practical.

        1. Hollerith 1

          Re: Well, allright

          Where can I buy a ticket? A suitcase of cheese sandwiches and I am there!

          1. asdf Silver badge

            Re: Well, allright

            Probably missed the reference but shouldn't it be marmalade?

    2. TheVogon Silver badge

      Re: Well, okay...

      "China wants to build a 200km-long undersea tunnel to America"

      Makes sense seeing as they own much of it. Might as well make it easier to visit their investment...

      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: TheVogon Re: Well, okay...

        "....Makes sense...." Hardly. It's just another marketing ego-fart from the Chinese engineering companies, big on hype and without any actual planning to back it up. I reckon they make one of these silly, big-up-China announcements at least once-a-quarter just to try and give the impression that the Chinese are capable of more than just copying Western and Russian engineering. Not surprisingly, this one right after the Chinese stock market (including all those Chinese engineering companies) lost $3tn in a single day's panic.

      2. Gray
        Trollface

        Re: Well, okay...

        We 'merkins would be all in favor of it, long as it's only coal trains. We gave up on passenger trains when we got snookered into that Amtrak thing ... and everybody knows how Congress hates spending any money on that!

    3. Nigel Whitfield.

      Re: Well, okay...

      Gold plated? How vulgar - like a dictator's toilet. I have a better idea:

      On that train all graphite and glitter

      Undersea by rail

      Ninety minutes from New York to Paris

      What a beautiful world this will be

      (Video contains clips of astonishingly bonkers french Aérotrain)

    4. JeffyPoooh Silver badge

      A key technology needed to enable the Channel Tunnel...

      Bankruptcy.

      Build it for billions, go bankrupt, sell it to the operator for a few million, and off you go.

      The same advanced bankruptcy technology was used to enable the Iridium Satellite network.

      Hopefully the same approach can be made to work here.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    america to china on train

    If it was way cheaper than flight, could be great for vacation

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Andy Tunnah

        Re: america to china on train

        I can't tell if this is a holocaust joke or if some horrible train accident happened in Germany

        1. Richard Taylor 2 Silver badge
          Thumb Down

          Re: america to china on train

          Neither can I - although many non Germans found out the hard way if it is a holocaust 'joke'

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

          1. 9Rune5

            Re: america to china on train

            Why stop there (WW2)? That thing was largely brought on as a direct result of the unfair settlement after the first WW.

            Greece OTOH, AFAICT, brought it all upon themselves. A ridiculous low retirement age coupled with a rather broken tax system. All propped up by politicians voted in by the Greeks.

            They need to at least raise the retirement age to be more in line with other European countries. It is not fair that the rest of Europe has to work more so that Greece can continue their retirement.

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. asdf Silver badge

            Re: america to china on train

            >but I'm actually very angry at the German government at the moment at their treatment of Greece

            How dare they not let Greek voters vote themselves German taxpayer money. Patronage is a great political system until you run out of other people's money.

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

              1. Vic

                Re: america to china on train

                an interest rate that sounds OK but means he gets back three times what he paid them

                Three times? Have you watched some of the "cheap" channels on TV lately?

                There are at least 3 companies lending at >1200% APR. And that's down from the 6000% I saw a few years back. No those numbers aren't typos - the APRs really are that large.

                It is my belief that a loan should only be permitted if the recipient can calculate the monthly repayments on his own, to within a reasonable margin of error. These usurers are representing themselves as sensible and responsible; I do not see how any loan can be considered responsible if the monthly repayment is more than the loan...

                Vic.

      2. dotdavid
        Coat

        Re: america to china on train

        "People are very light, low-density loads"

        That's why they're building the tunnel to America.

        I'll get my coat...

    2. Groaning Ninny

      Re: america to china on train

      Great for vacation? Fine if you want to travel from Alaska to whatever-the-hell-part-of-Russia that is, but it'll still take you ages to travel overland from the ends of the tunnel to wherever it is in mainland Asia/America your end points are.

      One of the reasons transatlantic flight became more popular than the ocean liners was because of the time taken. I'd be surprised if that many people are really going to want to schlep from one of the contiguous States through Canada and then Alaska, (by car? by train?) to use the tunnel, and then make their way through northeast Asia.

      I'd guess this is more a freight affair...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: america to china on train

        "...more a freight affair..."

        Because containerized shipping by ocean is just so inefficient...

        Actually, it's essentially perfect, except for the unconscionable amount of air pollution from the Bunker fuels being used. Fix THAT, and high seas shipping would be very nearly perfect.

        Internet says that the 15 largest ships emit more air pollution than all the cars on Earth. Bunker fuels contain about 2000x the dirty sulfur as compares to diesel.

        This should be near the top of anyone's priority list.

        1. Bob H

          Re: america to china on train

          One day someone will realise that nuclear powered cargo ships are a sensible idea for these long-haul roots and actually get it sorted. There was once an attempt at it but the whole thing was rather poorly implemented.

    3. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Re: america to china on train

      If it was way cheaper than flight, could be great for vacation

      Passenger rail in the US is almost never cheaper than air travel for many reasons. However, for something like this which will require dedicated infrastructure, it may be possible to bring costs down to a reasonable level.

  3. Vincent Ballard

    And they've also recently (as in, last year) launched a freight train to Madrid.

    1. AbelSoul
      Trollface

      Re: launched a freight train

      Launched a train you say?

      Makes me think of this

      1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

        Re: launched a freight train

        Actually, this would be a better example:

        http://cdn.mangaeden.com/mangasimg/93/936f962e347f819401f1edad55dc7543e41a447a249cc3534551e5d6.jpg

  4. Ian Emery Silver badge
    Coat

    The Chinese and Russians are going to build it??

    What could possibly go wrong.

    See that coat with three sleeves?? Made in China.

    1. Daniel B.

      Re: The Chinese and Russians are going to build it??

      Yeah, same reason why we're wary of the Chinese HSR project in Mexico. Even more so when it was discovered that the company had bribed the Mexican President's wife.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The Chinese and Russians are going to build it??

        it was discovered that the company had bribed the Mexican President's wife

        That is just the way of doing business for them. I would have been surprised if they did not.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The Chinese and Russians are going to build it??

          "That is just the way of doing business for them in Mexico, for anybody. I would have been surprised if they did not."

          ftfy

          1. Daniel B.

            Re: The Chinese and Russians are going to build it??

            "That is just the way of doing business for them in Mexico, for anybody. I would have been surprised if they did not."

            Nah, for what I've read, China has far worse corruption problems than Mexico. As bad as some corruption scandals may be, contracts actually have legal binding and deals don't require becoming spunk-brothers with contractors.

      2. Gordon Stewart

        Re: The Chinese and Russians are going to build it??

        Yeah, western firms would *never* do that... right?

    2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: The Chinese and Russians are going to build it??

      The Russians built three railways across Siberia over the last century and a half. The third one is not on the map - it cuts over todays' Mongolia, North Eastern China to Korea. It was built by Russians around the turn of the century and the land around it leased from countries where it passed. That arrangement did not quite last through the wars and revolutions. So as far as doing it and going wrong - they can and there is little to go wrong.

      Problem is elsewhere - what is the business case?

      There is definitely no business case in end-to-end traffic. Containers are cheaper to moved by ships and if the passenger trade ever gets to sizes which overload completely the current passenger capacity it will be cheaper to build passenger versions of the monster than build a railway. Beriev actually has long range screen effect versions of both Be-200 and A42PE. So do the Chinese for their equivalent if satellite photos are to be believed so that is not far off.

      There is no business case for the usual railway "connect many places" either. What is it going to serve on the way? The seals and polar foxes in the Ohotsk sea? Last time I checked they do not need the latest Foxconn products.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The Chinese and Russians are going to build it??

        The Russians built three land-based railways; they did not attempt to tunnel 10's of kilometers under the sea. Keep in mind that engineering problems that had to be overcome with the Channel Tunnel, up that by nearly an order of magnitude and factor in geography of the area (much less well known than the English Channel, but what is known makes it harder to tunnel).

        10 out of 10 to the Chinese for ambition, but minus several million for engineering practicality.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The Chinese and Russians are going to build it??

          it's ignorant to say China dont have the capability and technology to build something like that. look at their vast network of high speed trains, which is way more advanced than other countries and that's something America would love to have but it cant because of economic and many other other constraints...

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The Chinese and Russians are going to build it??

          > Keep in mind that engineering problems that had to be overcome with the Channel Tunnel

          According to a colleague of mine who was one of the engineers overseeing construction, the main "challenges" on the tunnel were primarily of a political nature. This is not to say that the engineering was a walk in the park, but project of similar or higher relative technical complexity had been done before.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The Chinese and Russians are going to build it??

        There is no business case for the usual railway "connect many places" either.

        Railways rarely pay, as Victorian investors found out. And investors in Railtrack found in 2001. Or investors in Eurotunnel found out in 2006. Or investors in LCR found out in 2009 when HS1 became insolvent. And as any private sector investors in HS2 will find out in a few years time.

        The fundamental cause of this is that infrastructure is expensive, but the returns it can generate per pound of capital invested are lower than the economic cost of capital (whether public or private). China probably likes the idea of a world spanning construction project because it is currently enduring a nightmare slowdown, vast over-capacity in steel making, cement manufacture and construction. But spending something of the order of $200bn on this tunnel (at Chinese construction costs) would not be justified by snail rail, and if you then need to build 6,000 odd km of high speed links across Russia, Alaska and Canada, then the costs spiral further.

        But if China wants to spend all the IOUs from the developed world on this, who are we to tell them otherwise?

        1. Chris Miller

          @Ledswinger

          There will be no private sector investment in HS2 (it fails to meet the UK's criteria for RoI on infrastructure spending, even after massive fiddling of the numbers) - Chinese government funds, possibly. Once bitten, twice shy.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @Chris Miller

            There will be no private sector investment in HS2.....Once bitten, twice shy.

            I doubt that. We have serial bubbles in property, equities, bonds, commodities, government debt. Billions get wasted, money is lost. And a few short years later the same investors and lenders form a queue to invest in the next sure-fire "investment opportunity". You remember that global financial crisis caused by the syndication of US sub-prime lending? Well US banks are again busy lending to sub-prime customers, and syndication tranches of debt to other institutions. As an example, "asset backed securities" from US sub prime car loans amounted to over $7bn in the first four or five months of this year. What could possibly go wrong?

            The UK government will never have the money to "invest" in HS2, so they will have to come up with some fiddle to persuade the gullible to put the money in, but somebody is then going to take the hit when it (surprise, suprise) turns out to be an uneconomic investment. Unfortunately all the mandatory pension enrolment funds will be looking for a home by then, so chances are it will be private sector pension savers involuntarily shouldering the risk of HS2.

      3. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: The Chinese and Russians are going to build it??

        "There is definitely no business case in end-to-end traffic."

        Actually, there is - IF you are using nuclear electricity to drive the trains.

        Ships might be economical but they're a big CO2 emitter and there are other issues that come with them such as environmental noise which appears to be disrupting whale communications.

        Yes you could put a (small) nuke plant onboard but would you want to? It makes maintenance rather complicated even on the mega-container vessels that Marsk are deploying.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The Chinese and Russians are going to build it??

          "Ships might be economical but they're a big CO2 emitter"

          What happened to all the designs for modern wind-powered ships? Some had computer controlled sails - others were towed by a large kite.

          1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

            Re: The Chinese and Russians are going to build it??

            "

            What happened to all the designs for modern wind-powered ships? Some had computer controlled sails - others were towed by a large kite.

            "

            They would be a logistical nightmare. Routes would have to be longer in most cases to favour the best wind strengths and direction, and IIRC their average cruising speed was slower than conventional ships, making journey times many times longer (longer times = more ships needed for the same volume of goods). Individual transit times could not be accurately predicted. Much of the goods carried by ship has been ordered so as to arrive on or near a particular date and would cause problems if it arrived much earlier or later than planned for. Some ports are so busy that berths must be allocated weeks or even months in advance. Shipping companies also need to have reasonable advance knowledge of when & where each of its ships will be in order to plan its allocation of consignments, and a journey time of "anywhere between 4 to 10 weeks" makes such planning very difficult, if not impossible.

          2. The Indomitable Gall

            Re: The Chinese and Russians are going to build it??

            WRT modern sailing ships...

            Problem 1 has already been mentioned (weather-dependent journey times make the logistics of running a business tricky.).

            Problem 2 is why sailing ships went out of fashion in the first place. In actual transit, tall ships were more efficient than powered ships (because a twx lot of a powered ship's capacity is dedicated to engines and fuel) but they took an awful lot longer to load and unload because of rigging etc. And that was before he invention of the modern container ship, which is the easiest thing in the world to load and unload, given that everything is stored in lorry-sized containers and piled on deck.

            Sails mean surface use, which is unacceptable, even without the need for all the ropes and cables of traditional rigs, so no-one's interested.

            The high altitude kite idea, IIRC, was targeted specifically at supertankers. They have nothing on deck anyway, and they travel between specialist locations where there's not as much competition for berths.

        2. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge
          Alert

          Re: "...you could put a (small) nuke plant onboard.."

          or a (big) one at the end of the track and also power the infrastruture at that end, along with the town that would spring up around it to service the infrastructure.

          Or put a big plant at BOTH ends, connect both ends to the respective grids and use the tunnel as way of selling excess power during off peak periods each way. Then all we need is to run similar grid links through the Chunnel, connect UK to Ireland, Ireland to the States, and we have a nice conductive loop running round the planet, what could possibly go wrong....

          Solar storm anyone?

          I'm sure there is a simple solution to that - circuit breakers and solar weather forecasts etc.

          1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

            Re: "...you could put a (small) nuke plant onboard.."

            A power distribution network that spans several time zones would indeed have a big advantage insofar that peak load times would vary along the route, thus presenting power stations with a more constant load.

        3. DougS Silver badge

          Ships as CO2 emitters

          Modern supermassive container ships are actually extremely efficient. Yeah, one of those belches out a whole lot of CO2, but per ton of cargo it is a drop in the bucket. There's a couple orders of magnitude more CO2 getting items to the loading dock and from the destination loading dock to the consumer than there is for the container transit. Even if you had a transatlantic train that ran on fusion it wouldn't reduce the CO2 footprint of getting goods from the manufacturer to the consumer by enough to care about.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The Chinese and Russians are going to build it??

          > Yes you could put a (small) nuke plant onboard but would you want to?

          Are you aware that the Russian merchant navy already counts a small number of nuclear powered ships amongst its ranks?

          Anyway, the problem with shipping from a logistics point of view is that it's a slow way to move stuff around, and the problem that China is trying to tackle is that its customers are half a world away.

          In the purely hypothetical scenario that such a railway were to be built, your container would arrive in Alaska in less time than it currently takes for it to be transferred from rail/truck to a ship at the docks. This means more containers of whatever it is they make being sold in Europe and the US, which means a number of richer and happier Chinese.

      4. Named coward

        Re: The Chinese and Russians are going to build it??

        8000 miles at 80mph is just a little over 4 days which is about 1/3 or 1/4 the time it takes a ship to make the crossing. Could make sense as a half-way between air and sea (speed/price), but for the costs of building and maintaining such a thing.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The Chinese and Russians are going to build it??

          > which is about 1/3 or 1/4 the time it takes a ship to make the crossing

          Yup. Just to add, the other thing that slows things down is having to move the containers from one means of transportation to another. It can take up to a few days to offload and reload the biggest container ships, and that's counting with the modern computerised systems that are being used.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The Chinese and Russians are going to build it??

        > Containers are cheap

        But slow.

        That's the business case you're looking for--there's been talks of speeding up the freight traffic between China and Europe for over a decade now (with train being the favoured solution as well). Albeit a bit more ambitious from an engineering and cost standpoint, the same applies to North America.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Mushroom

    This won't end well

    I know. I've seen the film.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  6. werdsmith Silver badge

    Travelling time is often dead time, so I while in transit the time can be filled with an activity that you might otherwise be doing then you have the optimum time save.

    For instance, if I am going to spend 8 hours of my day in an office working, then ideally my desk and working environment could be moving. I would go into work in the morning at one place, step out in the afternoon in another.

    It's the idea of the sleeper train, instead of sleeping all night and then spend several more hours travelling in the morning, you sleep all night and awake at your destination. Effectively traveling without it costing you time.

    I suppose it can also be called First Class long haul and I can't afford it. Sorry, off topic, but two day travel time made me think about the time wasted sitting bored in an economy seat.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      But at the distances involved, the flight time alone can encompass a sleep cycle. You get onboard a passenger jet, sleep through the flight and the prefab meals and wake up touching down. Not only that, you don't waste an extra day (and all the additional meals) taking the long way round. That alone probably saves you enough to make the plane worthwhile in the long run. No form of surface passenger transportation can come close to economic sense when you're talking transoceanic distances. As for cargo, you're either patient or you're not. If you're patient, you'll save money using a container ship which can carry more than any train could. If you're not, you'll have it flown in to save time.

      1. tony2heads
        Windows

        Sleep

        I have never managed a proper sleep on a plane:

        - I cannot lie down

        - too many people in one place; at least 2 babies or toddlers on the flight crying.

        - too much vibration

        - people walking up and down near you (to go the the WC or whatever)

        - flickering lights of screens of other movie-watching insomniacs

        However I have had a good night's sleep on couchette compartments on night trains through the alps; there I lie down on an approximation to a bed, with a limited number of people to annoy you and there is a steady rattle without the vibration.

        Icon: what I look like after a long distance flight.

        1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

          Re: Sleep

          I have much the same problems on long flights, and rarely if ever manage any real shut-eye. The same holds for the sleeper-trains I have been on, alas (not so much the toddlers, but the vibrations and noise). I have had a ride on a Shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto which was so amazingly smooth that I do believe I could sleep on that one.

          My main concern is building a long under-sea tunnel in a tectonically active region.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Sleep

            "My main concern is building a long under-sea tunnel in a tectonically active region."

            The path proposed isn't near plate boundaries (those are much further south), which makes the engineering somewhat easier.

            As a cargo route this has promise. As a passenger route the only thing that makes sense for these kinds of distance would be a hyperloop. Appropriate tunnelling could handle both.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Sleep

          "However I have had a good night's sleep on couchette compartments on night trains through the alps;"

          I used to use the old London to Inverness sleeper. It took the company bean counters a little while to grasp that First Class sleeper was effectively cheaper than flying and spending at least one night in a hotel. It also meant I was only out of the office for one day.

          However - there wasn't much sleep as the train kept shunting while picking up and dropping off carriages from/to other cities. A good time to catch up on the latest Disc World book. On one journey heavy snow closed Inverness airport and the roads to the South - but the train was on time.

          I agree about long distance air travel. For London to Hong Kong the flight progress map over Russia is pretty much blank space. As Biggles once said: the aeroplane is the fastest method of travel - yet you appear to crawl over the surface of the Earth.

  7. ratfox Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Why not a gravitube?

    It's the same length, basically

  8. Dave, Portsmouth

    And I bet it only costs them about the same as we in the UK are going to pay for HS2!

    1. theModge

      It'll finished first as well...

  9. ARGO

    >China has a number of ambitions train projects in the pipeline, including a 270mph maglev from Shanghai airport to the city

    "In the pipeline"? That Maglev has been up and running for over 10 years!

    1. Edwin

      Transrapid

      I was wondering what El Reg was reading that said it was in the pipeline... Mind, they've slowed it down somewhat in recent years: it only runs 431 kh/h a couple of times a day these days.

      1. JetSetJim Silver badge

        Re: Transrapid

        I suspect it's the extension project that actually takes the MagLev into the middle of the city, rather than terminating outside the city (albeit near the tube, which is remarkably easy to use as Johnny-Foreigner if you know where you want to go).

        When in Pu-Dong, I used to get the tube from the bottom of that large pin with round bobbles on that features on the BBC news intro videos out to the station to get to the airport - cheaper and much safer than the local cabbies.

        Saying that, rumours abound of shoddy construction practices on the existing MagLev where substandard concrete was used in the foundations of the supporting pillars for the train line. Not sure what the realistic lifespan of the MagLev track is before something falls off it - perhaps that's why they've slowed it down a bit...

    2. Daniel B.

      >China has a number of ambitions train projects in the pipeline, including a 270mph maglev from Shanghai airport to the city

      "In the pipeline"? That Maglev has been up and running for over 10 years!

      And it isn't even Chinese tech, it's German tech. Of course, the Chinese in all their pirating glory "invented" some knockoff tech that was suspiciously similar to Transrapid's one. Searching for "Zhui Feng" will spit out "pirated from German tech" as its first hits.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        > Searching for <blah> will spit out <bleh> as its first hits.

        Truth by Google™?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Purpose

    It's obviously not for passengers. After two days non-stop travelling you'd end up in Alaska. How long does it take by train to get from Alaska to anywhere interesting in the USA? Is it even possible?

    It's clearly intended for shipping Chinese goods to US and Canada, and taking greenbacks or gold bullion in the opposite direction.

    1. Chris Miller

      Re: Purpose

      Exactly. And the existing Alaskan railroads (to use the local vernacular) don't go anywhere near the Bering strait and are not connected to the North American rail network. Fixing those two issues would be a minor job compared to a 200 mile tunnel, of course :)

    2. WonkoTheSane Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: Purpose

      The Alaska Railroad ends at the port of Whittier on the South coast, where trains are wheeled onto ferry barges for the crossing to the US mainland. It does NOT connect to Canada.

    3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Purpose

      The scheme sounds a swindle, a lot like the current Nicaragua canal scheme.

    4. DJSpuddyLizard

      Re: Purpose

      American vacationers won't use it - won't spend an extra day of their 14 days off annually on travel.

      Businesses might send people might if they have email and phone connectivity all the way so they can work non-stop during the trip.

  11. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Fihart

      Re: So,an invasion route ...

      Tunnel is never going to happen.

      If you think UKIP times 12 you have the Republican Tea Party faction.

      Historically, Teddy Roosevelt allowed Los Angeles to hijack water from Northern California in part because he saw building a second large city on the West Coast as a bulwark against potential Asian expansion.

    2. Nifty

      Re: So,an invasion route ...

      The rumours that U.S. is now going to sell the Alaska that it bought off the Russians to the Chinese are NOT TRUE!

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: So,an invasion route ...

        If there wasn't any oil there, they might…

  12. Shadow Systems Silver badge

    I wholeheartedly approve.

    I wish it could get here faster than two days, but it would still be fresh, authentic Chinese Food Delivery.

    On a more serious note, I like the Sleeper Car & "Business Class" idea. Make sure the trains have internet access so we can connect to the office the entire way, and we could make business trips from one end to the other in more comfort than a plane, faster than a ship, & probably more productive than stuck in the office.

    If a Sleeper Car with Business Class accommodations can be had inexpensively, then it could even be good for vacationers wanting to see the other side but not wanting the headaches (& literal pain in the ass) of flying. The cramped seats on a plane, having to listen to some whiney brat bitch & moan about being bored, wanting to play, needing to go potty, not having their favorite video game, & generally needing to be shoved out a porthole to the applause of all the other passengers (the whiner can be of any age & most often is), the ability to walk up & down a few car lengths of aisles to excersize, an actual Dining Car for a sit down, family style meal, having an actual Entertainment Center in the Sleeper Car that includes TV, radio, internet, books, & toys for the kids, plus internet service would be a rather nice way to go.

    I would be worried about accidents in the tunnel & the responce time for Emergency Services to attend to the victims. Tunnel fires are bad enough when the exit is only a KM away or there's a stairwell leading up & out for the folks to escape to. A tunnel that takes a day to get to the mid point would probably need Emergency Service Stations at regular intervals along it, the better to evacuate people into since the surface would be a bit difficult to reach quickly.

    Make it a MagLev bullet train of the HyperLoop variety so it reaches the other end in quiet comfort, and sell tickets for less than a First Class air ticket, and you've pretty much got yourself a winner.

    Of course, then you have to worry about the Mutant Mole People attacking the trains that break through their Sacred Burial Grounds and disturb their Honoured Dead, but maybe we can bribe them with chow mein & caviar?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I wholeheartedly approve.

      "I wish it could get here faster than two days, but it would still be fresh, authentic Chinese Food Delivery."

      IIRC someone has their favourite restaurant ship them meals by intercontinental flights.

    2. Terry 6 Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: I wholeheartedly approve.

      the whiner can be of any age & most often is

      Yep. That's me you can hear. I hate traveling in a metal tube, cramped, uncomfortable seats, ghastly food like substances, three people to get past just to go to the toilet. Tedious vids on tiny screen and hours sitting in the airport shopping mall staring at the sort of shops that only sell stuff you don't need .

      Luckily I've never had to fly for work.

      Some people ( like my B-in-L) love it. It'd be my idea of Hell.

      Now a train journey.

      I'd have liked that.

      Coat, for on the way out of the terminal.

    3. The Indomitable Gall

      Re: I wholeheartedly approve.

      The business class service would have to have fully-appointed meeting rooms, as you'd be spending your entire outward journey with you team prepping for the meeting you were going to.

  13. Kharkov
    Stop

    It's not for people, only goods...

    Spending more than 24 hours on a road, through a tunnel, up onto an island, onto a bridge, to another island, down into a tunnel before arriving at another continent, doesn't sound fun.

    Spending around 24 hours on a train, through tunnels, across bridges etc, likewise doesn't sound fun.

    People don't want to spend 24 hours on a train or in a car. Period.

    So, they'll use it for goods? I love big engineering works as much as the next guy but you've got to prove the economic case first.

    Enormous, (Enormous? Freaking HUGE) costs to build a route with a long lead time, versus the cheapness of container ships which are operating right now. I admit, I don't know any of the cost figures for this project but I'd lean to this being a pipe dream for the foreseeable future.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's not for people, only goods...

      "People don't want to spend 24 hours on a train or in a car. Period."

      They will if you endeavor not to make the trip boring. I once rode Amtrak's California Zephyr, a route that ran from Chicago to Oakland (with a follow-up bus to San Francisco). Takes two days, but thanks to things like a lounge car with plenty of viewing opportunities, it wasn't as boring as you would think. It was different, and I liked it personally. The fares are flexible, too, though it does get expensive if you want a bed (then again, the meals are included with that).

      1. Chris Miller

        Re: It's not for people, only goods...

        Yes, a long train journey can be made more like an ocean cruise - not the quickest way from A to B, but possibly the most enjoyable. Crossing North America by rail means you've got great scenery, like the Rockies, to look at, but there's still many hours of flat, indistinguishable prairie, as well. A friend who's taken the Trans-Siberian described it as "a week of watching birch trees go past the window from 10 feet away", and the proposed route would include a great deal of such 'excitement'.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's not for people, only goods...

      "Spending around 24 hours on a train, through tunnels, across bridges etc, likewise doesn't sound fun."

      The Orient Express service was originally Paris to Istanbul. It was resurrected several times - and currently runs as the luxury service of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express.

    3. Ol'Peculier
      Thumb Up

      Re: It's not for people, only goods...

      After spending about 56 hours on the train between San Francisco and Chicago, I'd disagree. Amazing scenery, great people to talk to, somebody brought out a guitar and started an impromptu party somewhere near Salt Lake City, and a fair price for the experience. And the beer wasn't too expensive either (though they did eventually run out...)

    4. Vinyl-Junkie
      Pint

      Re: It's not for people, only goods...

      I too have done trans-continental travel in the United States, and agree with those who say it's not boring (even Iowa; "oh look, a farm"; 50 miles of flat fields "oh look, a farm"... repeat for several hours. ) because it's the people as much as the scenery that makes the trip. I was amazed at how much people talk to each other on the train in the US, as well as the diversity of those travelling. This was particularly true of the observation car and the dining car (where the sittings are regulated and the car always full, so you have to sit with others).

      Icon because of the several bottles of Samual Adams I enjoyed both evenings on my way across the USA.

    5. Dabooka Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: It's not for people, only goods...

      You're missing one thing of course; people actually do spend that length of times on trains. Unlike flying, the train journey is the holiday.

      Of course I'm not suggesting the service could be sustainable by passengers alone, but I bet they'd be a couple of high class sleepers with restaurant and observation carriages on each scheduled service.

      Just saying, try not to make sweeping statements about wasted time. After all it's only wasted if you want to be doing something else with it....

      .

  14. John Robson Silver badge

    Surely they'll be

    designing this to be a hyperloop, if that tech is also being considered elsewhere...

    That makes it 1800mph, rather than 200, which rather changes the travel times...

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Holy Crap.....

    ...imagine Operation Stack for that one!

  16. FlatSpot
    FAIL

    Burst the bubble

    Would be nice but it's not going to happen, have you seen the news about the Chinese stock market the wheels have already started to fall off, it's going to be a huge mess. 13x the amount that Greece owes has "vaporised" over the summer.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Burst the bubble

      13x the amount that Greece owes has "vaporised" over the summer.

      So the Chinese will follow the example of the Fed, and print up whatever it takes to extend and pretend. The China slowdown makes this more likely not less likely, because the last thing the Chinese communist party can afford is the social unrest of a sustained slowdown, and the unravelling of all the excess investments they've made in the past decade.

      Having said that, it doesn't stop it being economic madness.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Burst the bubble

      "have you seen the news about the Chinese stock market"

      The chinese stock market is both down 30% on last week and 80% up on 2 years ago.

      This swing isn't the largest there has been either. I was worried until I looked at the longer picture. Chinese stocks are _volatile_ (and this is partly explainable inasmuch as large+stable companies list on american or european exchanges)

      The chinese govt has been busy with infrastructure spending to try and prick bubbles - which has a considerable advantage over other forms of quantative easing inasmuch as you actually have something to show for all that spending at the end of it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Burst the bubble

        "infrastructure spending to try and prick bubbles - which has a considerable advantage over other forms of quantative easing inasmuch as you actually have something to show for all that spending at the end of it."

        You appear to conflate the (misguided) Keynesian myth that contra-cyclical investment can reduce the impact of downturns and improve growth with the idea of deflating emergent bubbles for "soft landings".

        Infrastructure investing during a bubble makes things worse, and that's exactly what China has done. Which is why they they have more empty apartments than the entire housing stock of the UK and Germany combined, complete ghost cities (eg Ordos) and airports without aircraft (eg Dachangshan). They also invested in not just the infrastructure, but the means of production: you might want to search on terms like China steel overcapacity. Or cement overcapacity. Or almost any commodity or industrial capability.

        Just because they have created a tangible object through infrastructure investment doesn't mean they have created a tangible asset, and if they haven't created an economic asset then they've just wasted billions building something nobody wanted.

  17. TVC

    Too Late

    They already have a tunnel - we just haven't found it yet.

    The little buggers run down it at night and steal all our data and stuff.

  18. Tom 38 Silver badge
    Headmaster

    China has a number of ambitions train projects in the pipeline, including a 270mph maglev from Shanghai airport to the city

    Not in the pipeline, it exists and has done for many years. It doesn't get right in to the city, its terminal is about a 15 minute tube ride from Huangpu, but it is super cool. There's a big digital speedometer in the middle of each carriage that ticks up to (when I rode it) 420 km/h. It doesn't even seem like you are going that fast until you look out of the window and see the city just flying by, at which point I started to get a bit freaked out on the banking turns...

    If I go back I think I would get a day pass ticket, because just riding it to the airport is too brief - as soon as I got there I wanted to ride it back to the city and then back again, but my plane was waiting :(

    1. Nifty

      The Shanghai Maglev is still used as a template for UK rail infrastructure planning - expensive state-funded vanity schemes that manage not to be useful.

      E.g a Crossrail that won't link HS2 with Heathrow properly, instead you will wander across main roads with your luggage or with luck get a bus or tube connection to make the final link.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Crossrail that won't link HS2 with Heathrow properly, instead you will wander across main roads with your luggage or with luck get a bus or tube connection to make the final link."

        Reminds me of the days when to get to Heathrow from London you had to get on a BOAC double-decker bus at Victoria.

        1. Nigel Whitfield.

          Or, for BEA ...

          The West London Air Terminal, now Sainsburys on Cromwell Road.

  19. Kaltern
    Go

    This is all very well...

    ... but what will the Wifi be like?

    And will I get a mobile signal?

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    (Rail)Road Trip!

    Think of the opportunities - I reckon you could do Durness in the far north west of Scotland all the way to the tip of South America without ever taking a boat or plane. At the very least it's got a Michael Palin series in it. If we could persuade China to tunnel under the kyle, you could drive contiguously from Cape Wrath itself. One day...

    1. FelixReg

      Re: (Rail)Road Trip!

      Cape Town to Patagonia, dude!

      By taxi.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: (Rail)Road Trip!

        Cape to Cairo railways have been suggested before. A Mister Rhodes, iirc, was a fan of the idea.

  21. macaroo

    It would be an convenient way to move an over sized hydrogen bomb to North America. There is a lot to be said about the vast ocean separating competing Countries.

    1. Anonymous Blowhard

      A nuclear weapon, even a "over sized hydrogen bomb", isn't that big, and if they wanted to send one they could put it in a forty foot container and send it on a container ship to Oakland; they get over a million containers a year so they don't inspect them all.

      And why would China want to bomb the US, their best customer? Xenophobia?

      "There is a lot to be said about the vast ocean separating competing Countries"

      You probably like the English Channel too, in case the French or Germans decide they want to invade us.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "You probably like the English Channel too, in case the French or Germans decide they want to invade us."

        Probably - although possible also thniks that the French have subcontracted the job already ...

      2. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge

        put it in a forty foot container

        Ship it with bananas and they won't even notice the radioactivity...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "It would be an convenient way to move an over sized hydrogen bomb to North America. "

      There was a short story in the 1960s on that theme. Chinese fishing boats regularly docked on the West Coast of the USA - and a load of prawns would be loaded into a truck. Included in the truck's cargo was an atomic bomb - which was then driven to Washington DC.

  22. 0laf Silver badge

    Is there not a rather large continental fault line going right now there?

  23. Sparkypatrick

    "Traveling in a metal tube, cramped, uncomfortable seats"

    That sounds a lot like my journey to work this morning. On a train.

    Whatever they do, they mustn't get Southeastern to run the trains.

    1. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge

      Re: "Traveling in a metal tube, cramped, uncomfortable seats"

      or DB Regio Tyne and Wear....

  24. Christoph Silver badge

    Would you rather spend 24 hours on a train, or 24 hours in airport security/waiting while they fix the plane?

    Are they going to link this with Eurostar?

  25. naive

    Ambition deserves admiration but faster planes seem more realistic

    A connected world is probably a better one, but except from the challenge of building this, it would run through one on the most inhospitable parts of the world, with tons of snow covering the tracks most of the year. Keeping these railroads operational seems a never ending chore.

    Perhaps the Chinese can think about building faster planes, after the demise of the two fastest passenger jets ever built, Concorde and Boeing 707-320B with JT3D's, planes got just considerably slower in the last decades. Since Western plane builders can do nothing better then churn out ever slower flying turtles, there would for sure be a market for planes with a cruising speed exceeding 1000 km/h.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ambition deserves admiration but faster planes seem more realistic

      there would for sure be a market for planes with a cruising speed exceeding 1000 km/h

      Not really. Concorde demonstrated that there was no commercial case for supersonic travel. Boeing had a look with the SST, and couldn't make that happen. Look at the development costs for any supersonic aircraft, and they can't be economically recovered from the small number of passengers that supersonic aircraft can carry, and that's before the high fuel and operating costs are considered. That's why there's always been Pie In The Sky projects claiming to develop new designs that will do anything up to Mach 5, invariably accompanied by garishly coloured artists impressions, but that never result in any new supersonic passenger transport.

  26. BobRocket

    Ambitious Project

    Build a 13000km tunnel with a 26000km maglev train constantly running at 400km/h in a continuous loop. (a round trip would take 65 hours)

    A method of inserting/removing containers onto/off the moving train.

    Above ground 'stations' where 40ft containers can be loaded/unloaded.

    Use the gradient to accelerate/decelerate the containers.

    If passengers want to use it, put them in a 'special' container and add them in the queue.

    How much would that cost ?

    How much does it cost to have all those steel/concrete plants that the OP pointed out stand idle ?

    Just have the central bank expand its balance sheet (I bet you didn't know it could do that)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ambitious Project

      "A method of inserting/removing containers onto/off the moving train."

      Hmm - reminds me of non-stop express steam trains picking up and delivering mail bags. Just have to scale it up a bit - and then someone might write a nice poem about it.

  27. hatti

    When it's finished will?

    The attacking side roll three dice,

    The defending side roll two dice.

    1. The Indomitable Gall

      Re: When it's finished will?

      The reward wil outweigh the Risk....

  28. Thrud61
    Mushroom

    I've already seen the film

    "A Chinese general goes berserk and has a system of tunnels dug all the way from China to USA, under the Pacific Ocean! Wherever there is an important military base, he places atomic bombs. US Navy soldiers go underground to repel the invaders. "

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0061387/

  29. Ian Emery Silver badge

    Anyhow

    Dr Sheldon Cooper has already pre-booked a ticket.

  30. Mutton Jeff

    Due to Points failure ....

    There will be 3 day delays...

  31. J.G.Harston Silver badge
  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Search: "Interbering" "TKM-World Link"

    As pointed out lots of history and many proposals over the years and like a land link from England to France will happen at some point.

    Is now the time? Will Asia want such a connection in the future? Is China the partner that can make it happen this century?

  33. Bob Dole (tm)
    Thumb Up

    I think they ought to do it simply because it sounds awesome.

    Very Very Large scale projects like this are the signature of the Chinese and are hall marks of the types of projects mankind can accomplish.

  34. Beachrider

    Is someone expecting a Highway from Wales, Alaska?

    There are no highways through through this part of Alaska. You would need to get from Wales, AK to Fairbanks AK. Perhaps a dog sled?

  35. G7mzh

    Shades of "Battle Beneath the Earth".

  36. Stoke the atom furnaces

    Barrage

    Wasn't there a geo-engineering proposal to build a barrage across the Bering Strait to prevent warm water from the Pacific entering the Arctic and melting the ice cap? The same barrage would have a road and railway line running across it.

  37. DerekCurrie Bronze badge
    Angel

    Boondoggle

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/boondoggle

    "A wasteful or impractical project or activity often involving graft"

    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Boondoggle&defid=524749

    1.- An unnecessary or wasteful project or activity.

    2.- A hopeless Case

    3.- Some sort of deformed toy made from parts of other different toys

  38. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Transcontinental railway over several continents

    Very ambitious project indeed. Tunnels are delicate enough to do right and railway over or under water is of the same order of magnitude. It has been done before - on the same continent.

    Building such a project over multiple continents means taking continental drift into account. Continental drift is apparently an inch a year. A railway has a precision of ±0·5mm, which is about 200 times smaller than the drift.

    That means that somebody is going to have to come up with a way to make what is a fixed structure float over the places where the continents drift - in opposite directions. And that solution is going to have to allow for high-speed travel and decades of use.

    If they do pull it off, it will be a major engineering feat that will eclipse everything that has been built up to now.

    1. DocJames

      Re: Transcontinental railway over several continents

      +/-0.5mm tolerance over what distance?

    2. Martin Budden Bronze badge

      Re: Transcontinental railway over several continents

      You can relax. The fault line in the Bering Strait runs east-west and passes well to the north of the islands. In other words, the entire tunnel will be within a single tectonic plate. Se here (scroll down to the diagram).

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A Jump on Globel Warming.... um or Change or something

    Al Gore convienced them that Bering Strait will soon be prime tropical real estate, by 2010... oh wait... umm by some time um later ... just look at the hockey stick it's PROOF. Don't be a denier, haters will hate. You won't be cool, just believe. When you consider that Siberia and Alaska will be the new Tropics, no more ice. Just hold hands and Believe, send your money and we can sing Kumbaya.

    The Chinese are just getting a jump on their 50 year plan for Global um Warming... um Change....

  40. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    Alaska...well, America

    Did someone move it when I wasn't looking? Whatever definition you use for "America", Alaska is still part of it.

    And for those commenting on the time it could take to get to/from either end of the tunnel termini "in the middle of nowhere, did you not RTFA? The plan calls for rail links all the way..

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