Author Topic: Is this idea hype or not? A train between Asia and North America?  (Read 1312 times)

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Offline cdev

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One idea thats come up again and again - a train between Asia and North America, spanning the narrow Bering Strait. Personally, I think this could and likely will happen at some point. The main obstacle it turns out isn't spanning the strait, its the woeful state of infrastructure on both sides of it, making it also necessary to build thousands of miles of other roads, or trains to connect the bridge, or railway tunnel to the rest of Asia and America. Also, the politics -

But I think that it eventually will happen, someday. Maybe not soon, though.

I do think the possibility (for an eventual bridge, or train) is better than the one portrayed on Youtube here, though.



Maybe within our lifetimes.

Linked below is a picture of the area with more accurate scaling.

"What the large print giveth, the small print taketh away."
 

Online janoc

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Re: Is this idea hype or not? A train between Asia and North America?
« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2018, 11:03:47 am »
Not sure what would be point of doing that, though. As you have said, there is no infrastructure to connect to on either end, even less a high speed rail one.

So build a train line to shuttle polar bears between Russia and Alaska? Or what exactly would be the business case for something like this?
« Last Edit: December 14, 2018, 11:06:44 am by janoc »
 

Offline rhb

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Re: Is this idea hype or not? A train between Asia and North America?
« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2018, 02:33:02 pm »
There's the minor problem that getting to the station is rather challenging for much of the year.  It's also a long detour for most of the population.  So the probability of it happening are an epsilon approaching zero.
 

Online beanflying

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Re: Is this idea hype or not? A train between Asia and North America?
« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2018, 02:38:06 pm »
Permafrost, (may not be a problem soon  :palm: ) volcanic and seismic issues before you even get to the logistics of the tunnel and the economics of it not to mention the cross border issues.

Not in our lifetimes
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Offline TERRA Operative

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Re: Is this idea hype or not? A train between Asia and North America?
« Reply #4 on: December 14, 2018, 02:44:56 pm »
What problem are they trying to solve with this that a commercial airliner can't currently do?
Any circuit design must contain at least one part which is obsolete, two parts which are unobtainable, and three parts which are still under development.

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Offline JohnMc

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Re: Is this idea hype or not? A train between Asia and North America?
« Reply #5 on: December 14, 2018, 11:48:38 pm »
Can't see passenger service ever really being a thing. Have heard the idea of a fright train. This I could see being done. It is much simpler to "Green energy" a train then it will be to convert one of those huge container ships.   
 
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Offline all_repair

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Re: Is this idea hype or not? A train between Asia and North America?
« Reply #6 on: December 14, 2018, 11:53:42 pm »
This channel is full of fake news.  Cant take this guy too seriously. 
 

Offline cdev

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Re: Is this idea hype or not? A train between Asia and North America?
« Reply #7 on: December 15, 2018, 01:52:50 am »
I kind of like his sarcasm generally but he plays fast and loose with the facts it seems sometimes. Not good.

For example, red lights went off for me at the sight of his map which grossly exaggerated the distance across the strait there.

Its only a relatively short distance and the water is fairly shallow.

Lets not forget the two continents were joined during the last ice age. The first Americans and most of our animal species walked here, in various ways. The two continents were last joined around 8000-10000 years ago.  (I dont think the exact period the land was flooded is known yet)

Berengia, the area that connected the two (see image)  was a large coastal plain, sort of like the now submerged Doggerland was to the UK. 

So, a bridge or tunnel would be a very real possibility. I think it will happen someday, and likely carry mostly freight.

Trains are more energy efficient than boats or air travel. It basically comes down to that. Anything that could bring us so much energy savings is important to do.
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Online janoc

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Re: Is this idea hype or not? A train between Asia and North America?
« Reply #8 on: December 15, 2018, 02:32:30 am »
Can't see passenger service ever really being a thing. Have heard the idea of a fright train. This I could see being done. It is much simpler to "Green energy" a train then it will be to convert one of those huge container ships.

It talks specifically about a "Chinese high speed train". Nobody carries cargo on high speed trains like that - there are some major economic and also physics-related reasons for it (4-8 carriages carrying ~100 people each like on a typical TGV vs 20 cars full of tens of tons of cargo moving at 250-300km/h makes a heck of a difference when it comes to getting it going and the stopping distance, for ex.).

The only exception is the French Post that used a few specially modified TGVs for carrying mail (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SNCF_TGV_La_Poste).

Train is maybe more ecological than a ship, but a fully loaded container ship carries quite a few trainloads there. A typical European freight train is about 20-30 cars, let's say they are container cars, so you get 20 containers. A container cargo ship can carry anywhere between 3000 to 14500 of these. So even a small ship carries the content of 150 trains, the largest ones 700+ trainloads of containers.

And if you need diesel hauled trains because there is no electricity (electric trains need a lot of infrastructure), it stops being all that green ...

There is also the "detail" of distance and time - a cargo ship crosses from China to the US in about 12-15 days. Sending the cargo by train all up to the Russian Chukotka and then across Alaska, Canada down to e.g. San Francisco (or wherever the destination would be) would likely take a lot longer (freight trains don't ride non-stop and straight point to point, there is a lot of stops, shunting, delays and what not). And that assumes good weather - trains have problems when the rails are buried in snow, cracking because of frost or the points/switches frozen in place. Which is kinda an issue given the part of the world we are talking about, even with all that global warming trouble ...

It is Solar roadways style fantasy - looks good on paper but the numbers necessary to make this practically work just don't add up.
« Last Edit: December 15, 2018, 02:42:28 am by janoc »
 

Offline rrinker

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Re: Is this idea hype or not? A train between Asia and North America?
« Reply #9 on: December 15, 2018, 06:55:05 am »
 Container ships are actually pretty 'green' compared to other methods of transporting the same cargo volumes. Would be hard to beat except by some of those ideas of modern clipper ships with computer controlled sails = and even the largest proposals for those I've seen are significantly smaller than the common bulk container ship, meaning you'd need a lot more of them to handle the same volume of freight. Digging a huge tunnel for trains is a pretty silly idea. On land though- modern diesel trains are not gross polluters, and significantly more efficient that trucks on roadways in terms of fuel consumed and emissions produced.  And modern electric locomotives are pretty amazing - instead of 'wasting' energy produced by dynamic braking as heat, they pump it back into the power line.
 One of my clients is an electrical contractor that does a lot of the overhead work for the local commuter railroad. First time I ever saw anyone max out an Excel spreadsheet. They have this application that calculates the exact placement of every pole and then of all the wire support infrastructure to precisely carry the overhead wire in the desired pattern (it does NOT run in a perfectly straight line parallel to the rails - that would be bad and wear a slot in the pantographs on the locos - instead it undulates side to side to even the wear).
 

Online mariush

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Re: Is this idea hype or not? A train between Asia and North America?
« Reply #10 on: December 15, 2018, 08:57:48 am »
Wondering if it wouldn't make sense to build a bunch of HUGE hovercrafts?  Basically, just load the train wagons on hovercraft, go across, advance in land a few tens of miles to a point where you can go on rails in straight line somewhere... unload the train ...

AFAIK , they gave up on hovercrafts due to high fuel consumption but maybe we're at the point where they could make 100% electric ones or just have a couple high voltage cables across the continents and the hovercraft could "hook" to the cable and recharge itself at some points during the crossing.
 

Offline Kleinstein

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Re: Is this idea hype or not? A train between Asia and North America?
« Reply #11 on: December 15, 2018, 10:01:48 pm »
The Behring straight is an area with very little population - so absolutely no need for an extra transport. It's hardly worth a small ferry every week, or a regular flight.

If at all a train in a tube under water would be something for a denser populated areas so lets say Florida to Cuba or maybe Taiwan to mainland China. In both examples politics makes is unlikely in the near future. From the technical side, maybe with a hyper-loop. :popcorn:
 

Offline Richard Crowley

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Re: Is this idea hype or not? A train between Asia and North America?
« Reply #12 on: December 16, 2018, 12:13:53 am »
There are scores of videos on YouTube about the Bering Strait tunnel.  Many of them quite serious in discussion of the technical, geographical, infrastructure and political problems.  As a child I thought that a tunnel between the UK and Europe was a fantasy. But then they did it.

The Bering Strait tunnel is a logical extension of the re-establishment of the ancient Silk Road via high-speed rail service.  Rail service between China and Europe has greatly speeded-up delivery of your Ebay purchases as well as making it considerably less expensive than traditional delivery by slow-boat shipping containers.
 

Offline Kleinstein

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Re: Is this idea hype or not? A train between Asia and North America?
« Reply #13 on: December 16, 2018, 12:40:33 am »
The Behring strait is just way of any major trafic. If it would really be going straight from china to the US - the more logical way would be tracks over the ice of the north pole  - provided there is still ice than. From the Bering strait it would be still several 1000 miles to any useful destination.

Before they would finish a tunnel, I would guess the Chinese would have learned and bought a warehouse somewhere in Mexico, Canada or Cuba.

The idea looks like someone not used to the metric system mixed up mm with Mm in the calculations.

The rail service from China to Europe has just started and is still slow (some 10 days) compared to 4 weeks with the ship. The price for transport via ship is still way lower.
 

Online janoc

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Re: Is this idea hype or not? A train between Asia and North America?
« Reply #14 on: December 16, 2018, 12:44:23 am »
There are scores of videos on YouTube about the Bering Strait tunnel.  Many of them quite serious in discussion of the technical, geographical, infrastructure and political problems.  As a child I thought that a tunnel between the UK and Europe was a fantasy. But then they did it.

The Bering Strait tunnel is a logical extension of the re-establishment of the ancient Silk Road via high-speed rail service.  Rail service between China and Europe has greatly speeded-up delivery of your Ebay purchases as well as making it considerably less expensive than traditional delivery by slow-boat shipping containers.

I hope that you do realize that there is a bit of a difference when it comes to the amount of trade and traffic between UK and the continental Europe vs. traffic between Russian Chukotka and Alaska, right?
 

Offline Richard Crowley

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Re: Is this idea hype or not? A train between Asia and North America?
« Reply #15 on: December 16, 2018, 01:21:06 am »
I hope that you do realize that there is a bit of a difference when it comes to the amount of trade and traffic between UK and the continental Europe vs. traffic between Russian Chukotka and Alaska, right?
I hope that you do realize that it isn't about Chukotka or Alaska any more than it was about Folkestone and Calais. It is about freight between Asia and America.
 

Online janoc

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Re: Is this idea hype or not? A train between Asia and North America?
« Reply #16 on: December 16, 2018, 02:45:56 am »
I hope that you do realize that there is a bit of a difference when it comes to the amount of trade and traffic between UK and the continental Europe vs. traffic between Russian Chukotka and Alaska, right?
I hope that you do realize that it isn't about Chukotka or Alaska any more than it was about Folkestone and Calais. It is about freight between Asia and America.

And how much freight is going through that route? There has been a ton of ferry traffic between Europe an UK (not just between Folkestone/Calais) before the tunnel has opened. And still the majority of the cargo is going through there and not through the tunnel.
So you are talking about building a railway track to replace/supplement non-existent cargo shipping route there.

And that completely ignores the state of the railway infrastructure on the both side of the Channel - comparing dense, electrified high speed lines in temperate climate with a half-continent worth of wilderness with zero infrastructure of any kind on both sides of the Bering strait.
« Last Edit: December 16, 2018, 03:04:51 am by janoc »
 

Offline JohnMc

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Re: Is this idea hype or not? A train between Asia and North America?
« Reply #17 on: December 16, 2018, 07:55:57 am »
Fright trains in other parts of the world are much bigger then 10-20 cars. Trains here can run into the hundreds of cars.
Cargo containers are typically run two high on many routes.
Standard trains are about twice as fast as cargo ships.
Electric trains are not a new tech. Even diesel trains are electric. Much simpler to develop say a Hydrogen/electric loco then some other fuel type for ships. The only thing that I see that would be viable would be nuclear. But don't see that making it. To much fear.
 
 

Offline LapTop006

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Re: Is this idea hype or not? A train between Asia and North America?
« Reply #18 on: December 16, 2018, 01:42:31 pm »
The only exception is the French Post that used a few specially modified TGVs for carrying mail (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SNCF_TGV_La_Poste).

This is the night mail crossing the border...

 

Online janoc

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Re: Is this idea hype or not? A train between Asia and North America?
« Reply #19 on: December 16, 2018, 10:42:58 pm »
The only exception is the French Post that used a few specially modified TGVs for carrying mail (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SNCF_TGV_La_Poste).

This is the night mail crossing the border...



Not quite sure what your point is ...
 

Offline TassiloH

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Re: Is this idea hype or not? A train between Asia and North America?
« Reply #20 on: December 16, 2018, 11:06:40 pm »
Rail service between China and Europe has greatly speeded-up delivery of your Ebay purchases as well as making it considerably less expensive than traditional delivery by slow-boat shipping containers.

Sorry, but nope. Cargo rail service from China to Europe (direct train) is two to three weeks, container freight via ship is about four weeks. Train is more expensive, so it is worth for bulk shipments where shipping cost counts, but also time to market (car parts from and to plants in china, laptops etc.).
Basically all the eBay/Aliexpress mail shipments go via air. They take 2 to 4 weeks to Germany because they spend most of the time waiting at some processing centers (first in china, depending on how many containers of mail are in line waiting for airliner freight capacity, then in Germany waiting for the postal customs processing). Btw., if you look at freight pricing, for small shipments (parcels, much-less-than-container-load), most of it is processing, transfer, local hauling, the long distance transport is only the smaller part of it.
Btw., according to Wikipedia, the Duisburg (Germany) to Chongqing train service, running more or less daily, transported 40000 containers in 2016. Well, one of the biggest container freight ships can load 20000 of these, so this one ship can do that in two roundtrips and 2 months or so. So the cargo rail service is a very useful thing, but serves a niche.
 

Offline LapTop006

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Re: Is this idea hype or not? A train between Asia and North America?
« Reply #21 on: December 16, 2018, 11:09:04 pm »
The only exception is the French Post that used a few specially modified TGVs for carrying mail (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SNCF_TGV_La_Poste).

This is the night mail crossing the border...



Not quite sure what your point is ...

Probably would have helped if I'd linked to a good version of the video (background), here's the subset the reference is from.



The way the British postal trains worked is really quite neat.
 

Online coppercone2

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Re: Is this idea hype or not? A train between Asia and North America?
« Reply #22 on: December 17, 2018, 02:26:03 pm »
What problem are they trying to solve with this that a commercial airliner can't currently do?

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Offline james_s

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Re: Is this idea hype or not? A train between Asia and North America?
« Reply #23 on: December 22, 2018, 05:18:24 pm »
Although I'm generally a fan of trains, I can't see how this is going to offer anything over existing container ships. The biggest trains are tiny compared to a ship, and the routes are fixed once the track is laid. These are incredibly remote locations they're talking about linking, we would need far more infrastructure on each end to make it useful.
 

Online coppercone2

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Re: Is this idea hype or not? A train between Asia and North America?
« Reply #24 on: December 22, 2018, 05:42:06 pm »
well it can't sink or get lost because of a malfunction and its not a glamorous vehicle, the harbor is likely to be smelly and you get seasick. Not exactly a vacation travel idea. And its likely slower and less reliable schedule wise.

I think these places get plenty less travel because the answer right now is ship. If I could go to some places by train i would, if you told me to get on a ship I lose interest completely. A ship is pretty nightmary compared to a road. I don't want to deal with waves, sharks, winds, navigational failures, propulsion failures and ice bergs. If a train does not arrive its pretty easy to look where it got stuck, a ship could end up pretty much any place. and the train has much tighter margins for arrival so if it breaks you have less anxiety because you know they will start looking within a few hours rather then a few days.


My recent trip was so bad on plane that I would have preferred to stay twice the time on a comfortable train then the damn plane with zero sleep and irritation. I felt off my kilter for about 3 days after that trash.
« Last Edit: December 22, 2018, 05:48:59 pm by coppercone2 »
 


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