Bering Strait Tunnel, Russia, Alaska


The tunnel under the Bering Strait is a proposed rail tunnel under the Bering Strait, recurrent since the nineteenth century.

In 1890, William Gilpin, who was the first territorial governor of Colorado, is the first to imagine such a project as part of a Cosmopolitan Railway, a railway network on a global scale, in his book Cosmopolitan Railway : Compacting and Fusing Together All the World’s Continents at a time when the huge Alaska was a former Russian territory acquired by the United States only since 1867.

In 1905, the French engineer Loïc Lebel suggested the Government of the Russian Empire to build a rail tunnel under the Bering Strait. Since the 1960s, the former governor of Alaska and former Secretary of the Interior of the United States, Walter Hickel is a leading advocate of the project.

The project of a global network was reintroduced in 2006 as part of a Trans Global Highway by Frank X. Didik

 A record of economic feasibility is under consideration by the Council for the Study of Productive Forces (CEFP) from Russia, sponsored by the Russian Ministry of Economic Development and Trade and the Russian Academy of Sciences.

The tunnel would have a length of 100 to 110 kilometers (twice the Channel Tunnel) and connecting approximately Ouelen (Chukchi peninsula in Russia) and Wales (Alaska, USA). Should be between 15 and 20 years to build. According to an estimate made in the 1990s, the project would cost $ 65 billion (48 billion euros), because it would build a total of 6 000 km of tracks. We need to build a route to connect the tunnel with the Russian side of the Trans-Siberian line further south and later with the American continental network. Regions crossings are now deserted and large industrial sites that could justify such an investment. Supporters of the project argue that it would allow the development of these regions and that the tunnel is also home to a pipeline and a power line.

According to the CEFP, the return on investment would be 30 years from the time the transcontinental railroad to reach the expected return of 70 million tonnes per year, which is comparable to the freight of the Panama Canal and Suez. Indeed according to its promoters, this tunnel should ensure ultimately intercontinental freight comparable to those channels as Panama or Suez (about 70 million tonnes in 2006) or 3% of world traffic. But this estimate is disputed traffic in Russia itself. The general manager of UPS Russia, Ivan Chatskikh, said that such a figure was a “joke.”

Although at first glance such a goal may seem unrealistic, it should be noted that the shortest path between the United States and China – the world’s leading exporter to the United States – through the Bering Strait (Reminder: geodesic sphere are of great circle arcs). The proponents cite as an example of tunnel projects under the Strait of Gibraltar and the tunnel under the Bosphorus to reject the arguments against the technical feasibility. The project was the focus of the conference “megadevelopments Eastern Russian” held in Moscow on 24 April 2007. It was chaired by Walter Hickel, former governor of Alaska. The participants signed a message to the governments of Russia, the United States, Canada, Japan, China and the European Union, asking them to support the construction of a tunnel under the Bering Strait. It was also a request to the G8 finance the $ 128 million for the prior study. At this conference, the engineer Vladimir Brezhnev, president of Russian construction conglomerate Transtroï, said: “We have the experience to lead the project (…) Even if we lost a lot of specialists during perestroika, it we left, “while former Alaskan Governor Walter Hickel provides:” Believe in my experience, money is never a problem. ” The U.S. ambassador to Russia, William Burns, has expressed enthusiasm for this symbolic link between the two countries can be economically viable. Koumal George, president of the IBSTRG, Interhemispheric Bering Strait Tunnel Regional Group, the region of eastern Siberia is full of untapped oil and rare metals. The construction of the line could explode the value of the land crossings.

Only the governor of the Chukotka region, where would the tunnel has not yet taken a position. This is Roman Abramovich, the oligarch’s richest countries (19.2 billion dollars according to Forbes magazine, best known in the West for his role as president of football club Chelsea, England).