Chinese Railways, Why? Part 3 of 9

Chinese Railways, Why? Part 3 of 9

9/14/2014 Umut Türker 2439 Times Read

The steel is a man-made obstacle; a natural obstacle is snow and tundra. There is an existing railway system in Alaska. For an area that is as large as Alaska, the length is small and not extensive. It begins at Seward (at the north end of the Gulf of Alaska and extends to Fairbanks, a distance of 778 kilometers (484 miles). Furthermore, this is all in the central portion of Alaska--not in the northern area where it is more frozen. According to the map (above) of the proposed Chinese railway, the new railway will be far longer, and will be in the northern range, close to where Fairbanks is located. The average temperature of Fairbanks is far below freezing for at least six months of each year. In Alaska, the tundra, in the construction of the railway, and the continuing snow, in the maintenance of the railway, will be enormous obstacles.

 

These enormous natural obstacles in Alaska are actually insignificant obstacles in Canada. Although the Canadian path will be more southerly, it will be far, far longer and, because of the arctic winds, it can get as cold as, or even colder than, the Alaska portion. Furthermore, the path does seem to avoid the mountain ranges in Alaska, but it does not escape those of Canada.

 

Perhaps the most daunting obstacle is that of the Bering Strait. To traverse it, an underground tunnel will have to be constructed. Such a tunnel would have to be at least 200 kilometers (125 miles) long, which is four times the length of the Chunnel (Channel Tunnel, connecting the U.K. to France). The Chunnel took six years to complete so the proposed underground tunnel, working at the same pace, would take 24 years or a quarter-of-a-century to complete. Technology has made spectacular strides in the last 20-25 years.