The long dormant plan to connect the US and Canada to Alaska by Rail.

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The long dormant plan to connect the US and Canada to Alaska by Rail.
Posted by CMStPnP on Saturday, October 07, 2017 9:32 AM

Slowly but surely the Alaska Railroad is expanding with plans someday to approach the Alaska state border with Canada and maybe cross it.    At this rate of speed though it could be another 200 years before the border is actually crossed.    I understand that currently a Sea Ferry is probably the most economical way to serve the relatively low volume Alaska railroad.     However, why not include Alaska in a Pacific Rim development plan that also includes Russia, Japan, China, Korea, etc.     Why not develop more of Western Alaska and build more cities there, perhaps open some more ports on the West Coast of Alaska and connect the new developments by rail.    Such an effort might make the rail connection between Canada and the United States a much higher priority and get the connection built a lot sooner.      Additionally, the increased economic activity in Alaska could only add to our GDP in the lower 48.     I have often wondered why no President to date has proposed to open Alaska to development and to more settlement, instead preferring to leave it in it's unofficial status as undeclared National Park.     What say the rest of you?

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Posted by Murphy Siding on Saturday, October 07, 2017 11:23 AM

   

      I was born in Alaska and lived there until I was 11 years old (1972). You apparently don’t understand Alaska. It’s big, but it can only support so much ‘development’ and so many people. The geography is all mountains, trees cold and water. If there was an economic reason to ‘develop’ it more, someone would be doing that now.

      There is not now, and will never be an economically viable reason to run a railroad from Alaska to the lower 48. Had it not been for WW II, there probably wouldn’t even be a highway connecting the two parts through Canada. The idea of Alaska being part of some new  Pacific Rim development makes about as much sense as a railroad to Hawaii.

 

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Posted by runnerdude48 on Saturday, October 07, 2017 11:50 AM

Every time they try to devlop a part of Alaska the environmentalists and assorted other liberals go crazy.  Weather and geography would be other reasons to leave well enough alone.  You'll probably see the Alaska Railroad through Canada in 200 years before you see more development on the West Coast of Alaska.

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Posted by samfp1943 on Sunday, October 08, 2017 11:28 AM

Murphy Siding

      I was born in Alaska and lived there until I was 11 years old (1972). You apparently don’t understand Alaska. It’s big, but it can only support so much ‘development’ and so many people. The geography is all mountains, trees cold and water. If there was an economic reason to ‘develop’ it more, someone would be doing that now.

      There is not now, and will never be an economically viable reason to run a railroad from Alaska to the lower 48. Had it not been for WW II, there probably wouldn’t even be a highway connecting the two parts through Canada. The idea of Alaska being part of some new  Pacific Rim development makes about as much sense as a railroad to Hawaii.

 

 

 Norris(Murphy Siding); I understand your statement, but isn't it something akin to someone who born in Alaska, trying to explain 'development' in Texas; to someone unfamiliar with either location?  You are so right about the building of the 'Alcan Highway' in WWII and that reasoning. At that time it was a matter of National Security, not only for the U.S.A., but Canada as well.Whistling

I don't think it is fair to equate Railroads to Hawaii, and to Alaska,as well. Tunneling has come a long was, as have over ocean bridges. Not to mention bridge/tunnels to connect Alaska to Eastern Russia. Huh?  At least there is a land mass between the PNW and Alaska; even if it does belong to Canada. Sigh

In the past we have had similar conversations on this Forum; referencing the connecting the ARRC with the rail network in Canada, and then the Continental US. 

 As someone else{BaltACD?} mentioned, a very expensive project. here is a map link for some of the potential routings; See Link @ http://economics.gov.yk.ca/RailStudy/Map_Page_ACRL.pdf

This link is to a section of the ARRC's website and can be accessed at the header labeled " Capital Projects". If you fopllow that header down the page to the fery last items on the list.  You will find these headings : See @  http://www.alaskarailroad.com/corporate/CapitalProjects/Studies/tabid/490/Default.aspx

follow down to:

Alaska Canada Rail Link Phase 1 Feasibility Study - For information purposes only, not an official Alaska Railroad project.

[At that point you can access four PDF files referencing the Phase 1 Feasibility Study.]

This study contains the following:

"...On July 1, 2005, the governments of Alaska and Yukon launched an initiative to determine the feasibility of a rail link connecting Alaska and Yukon with the North American railroad system."

Phase 1, jointly chaired by Yukon and Alaska, was governed by an international Advisory Committee comprised of government and industry leaders and this committee oversaw a multi-lateral Management Working Group that assisted in the coordination of the Study.."

[ this information from this site] @ http://economics.gov.yk.ca/rail.htm

It is an interesting situation and could be considered " a missing link" in the Rail network of the North Amertican continent(?).  The CNR has an existing rail link to Fort Nelson, B.C. Not sure how often, or  if it still gets any level of  service, currently ?Blindfold

[I believe that, at one time, the line to Deese Lake,B.C. had some rail service, and that it was surveyed and graded a number of years back, but was never completed. I also recall reading somewhere that some of the lower end of this line used a home built rail vehicle to serve the citizens who lived alon that line(?)] 

See @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BC_Rail

FTL:[snipped]"...In 1958, British Columbia Premier W.A.C. Bennett boasted that he would extend the railway to the Yukon and Alaska, and further extension of the railway was undertaken in the 1960s. A 23-mile (37 km) spur was constructed to Mackenzie. A third line was extended west from the mainline (somewhat north of Prince George) to Fort St. James. It was completed on August 1, 1968. The largest construction undertaken in the 1960s was to extend the mainline from Fort St. John 250 miles (400 km) north to Fort Nelson, less than 100 miles (160 km) away from the Yukon. The Fort Nelson Subdivision was opened by Premier Bennett on September 10, 1971. Unfortunately, the opening of the line was overshadowed by the inaugural train derailing south of Williams Lake, south of Prince George..."[snip]

[The Oil refinery at North Pole, Ak, was taken off- line in 2014 by the owner, Flint Hills Resources. Problems that started from a previous ownership corporation, and also the State of Ak which at one time was involved in it.             The facility is now a distribution terminal connected to the Port of Anchorage by a pipeline, utilizes rail for product distribution and according to thier website handles about 12,000 rail cars a year.]

The ARRC is a company owned by the State of Alaska and operates as a normal business entity (employees are not considered State employees(?). In recent times, the ARRC has pushed somewhat farther along. It has completed an expension to Delta Junction and the nearby Military Fort.

In the intervening years there has been quite a bit of mineral exploration and limited development of mining activities in the Canadian North West. The existing CNR rail line to Ft. Nelson, IIRC sees some sporatic rail service(?). It seems to be within a hundred or so miles of Alaska(?)  The whole 'Connection' thing is an interesting converstaion of 'maybe'.  My 2 Cents

 

Sam

 

 


 

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Posted by CMStPnP on Sunday, October 08, 2017 12:28 PM

Additionally, Alaska is only partially mountainous (see topo link).   Viewing the map unless all the low elevation areas were muskeg/peat swamps or the like I would not say the terrain is insurmountable to more development.    What is holding the country back is cost of establishing a transportation infrastructure to the West Coast of Alaska not necessarily geography itself.   Also, items are more expensive in Alaska because it's existing transportation system is so underdeveloped.    So yes I think they would need fairly massive federal help in opening up the state more.

https://www.topozone.com/alaska/

http://www.dverbyla.net/gradstudents/dorte/elev.jpg

 

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Posted by DSchmitt on Sunday, October 08, 2017 1:44 PM

Alaska Soils

https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/ak/soils/surveys/?cid=nrcs142p2_035911

Looks like most of Alaska is Gelosis soils (permafrost).   Which turns to impassable muck if disturbed.

 

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Posted by CMStPnP on Sunday, October 08, 2017 4:05 PM

DSchmitt

Alaska Soils

https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/ak/soils/surveys/?cid=nrcs142p2_035911

Looks like most of Alaska is Gelosis soils (permafrost).   Which turns to impassable muck if disturbed.

They build railroads over permafrost because they are cheaper and easier to maintain than roadways over permafrost.   

Alaska has built private railroads outside of the State ALASKA Railroad system, including several shortlines in Nome that were even profitable at one time until the population after the gold rush decreased and they were abandoned:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJ59Fob5vTg

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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, October 08, 2017 8:41 PM

CMStPnP
They build railroads over permafrost because they are cheaper and easier to maintain than roadways over permafrost.

Why would the proven approach for stabilizing permafrost that was used for the Alaska Pipeline not work reasonably for a railroad subgrade?

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Posted by Murphy Siding on Sunday, October 08, 2017 9:38 PM

CMStPnP

Additionally, Alaska is only partially mountainous (see topo link).   Viewing the map unless all the low elevation areas were muskeg/peat swamps or the like I would not say the terrain is insurmountable to more development.    What is holding the country back is cost of establishing a transportation infrastructure to the West Coast of Alaska not necessarily geography itself.   Also, items are more expensive in Alaska because it's existing transportation system is so underdeveloped.    So yes I think they would need fairly massive federal help in opening up the state more.

https://www.topozone.com/alaska/

http://www.dverbyla.net/gradstudents/dorte/elev.jpg

 

 

I think you're just kind of guessing or wishing things now. Alaska is very wet. The northern and higher eleveations are very cold. There is a developed transportation system now. It is the railroad and highways that go to the port of Anchorage. That system will never allow a railroad throgh Canada to be competitive.

      There isn't to my knowledge much of anything on the west coast of Alaska to develop. What hidden gems are you seeing there? If they are so valuable, why has no one pursed them yet?

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Posted by Murphy Siding on Sunday, October 08, 2017 9:42 PM

runnerdude48

Every time they try to devlop a part of Alaska the environmentalists and assorted other liberals go crazy.  Weather and geography would be other reasons to leave well enough alone.  You'll probably see the Alaska Railroad through Canada in 200 years before you see more development on the West Coast of Alaska.

 

Do you have any examples from Alaska to support your first sentence? I would say that weather and geography are 50% of the issue and lack of any potential traffic would take car of the other 50%.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Sunday, October 08, 2017 9:51 PM

CMStPnP

...    What is holding the country back is cost of establishing a transportation infrastructure to the West Coast of Alaska not necessarily geography itself.  ...

 

As mentioned there were BC rail lines toward the Yukon, however, they did not spur enough development to sustain them.  The rail lines in Alaska, other than ARR, were built to serve mining interests and died with the mines.  Even ARR's traffic is primarily oil, coal and gravel.  All that is instate, except for coal which goes to Asia.  Alaska's industries are extractive, and those commodities seem to do fine via marine shippng. As a railfan, I would love to see a rail link to Alaska, but I just don't see who is going to build it.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Sunday, October 08, 2017 10:44 PM

Overmod

 

 

CMStPnP
They build railroads over permafrost because they are cheaper and easier to maintain than roadways over permafrost.

 

Why would the proven approach for stabilizing permafrost that was used for the Alaska Pipeline not work reasonably for a railroad subgrade?

 

The Alaska pipeline (TAPS) primarily uses stilts with heat sinks to isolate the pipeline and its warm oil from permafrost.  I don't think that a railway would have those heat problems.  Also, while the oil filled TAPS weighs under 1000 lbs per linear foot, a rail line would expect about 6000 lbs/ft.  My understanding is that in Alaska they generally use a gravel pad to isolate construction over permafrost.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Monday, October 09, 2017 11:00 AM

Murphy Siding
That system will never allow a railroad throgh Canada to be competitive.

"Never", when I see such absolute terms in a response, I presume the writer has already closed their mind.    The Russian proposal to build a undersea rail / highway tunnel via the Bearing Strait for example would significantly boost rail traffic via Alaska.    Further, the China to United States shipping route is significantly shorter via the Bering Straits than it is directly across the Pacific from China, making such a route cheaper to ship by.     Think of the Intermodal alone such a route would carry and add in the China and Korea both share our railway gauge.     Russia would be an issue but Russia is paying to develop it's Far East.     Such a proposal now is politically impossible and extremely expensive because of the development needed in the Russian Far East but would it be in the future after more development of the Russian Far East?

Murphy Siding
There isn't to my knowledge much of anything on the west coast of Alaska to develop. What hidden gems are you seeing there? If they are so valuable, why has no one pursed them yet?

We haven't really explored we really do not know yet what is out there or just offshore except for a relatively rich fishing area.    And as I said before and you would read in several places, Alaska has not developed out West due to lack of infrastructure........virtually the same reason Russia has not developed it's East all that much.   It does not mean there are no natural reasources out there, it means retrieving them with no real infrastructure in place is more expensive than elsewhere on the planet.    Lower the cost of retrieval via infrastructure and watch what happens.

  

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Posted by Murphy Siding on Monday, October 09, 2017 11:46 AM

CMStPnP
 
Murphy Siding
That system will never allow a railroad throgh Canada to be competitive.

 

"Never", when I see such absolute terms in a response, I presume the writer has already closed their mind.    The Russian proposal to build a undersea rail / highway tunnel via the Bearing Strait for example would significantly boost rail traffic via Alaska.    Further, the China to United States shipping route is significantly shorter via the Bering Straits than it is directly across the Pacific from China, making such a route cheaper to ship by.     Think of the Intermodal alone such a route would carry and add in the China and Korea both share our railway gauge.     Russia would be an issue but Russia is paying to develop it's Far East.     Such a proposal now is politically impossible and extremely expensive because of the development needed in the Russian Far East but would it be in the future after more development of the Russian Far East?

 
Murphy Siding
There isn't to my knowledge much of anything on the west coast of Alaska to develop. What hidden gems are you seeing there? If they are so valuable, why has no one pursed them yet?

 

We haven't really explored we really do not know yet what is out there or just offshore except for a relatively rich fishing area.    And as I said before and you would read in several places, Alaska has not developed out West due to lack of infrastructure........virtually the same reason Russia has not developed it's East all that much.   It does not mean there are no natural reasources out there, it means retrieving them with no real infrastructure in place is more expensive than elsewhere on the planet.    Lower the cost of retrieval via infrastructure and watch what happens.

  

 

I think you just cruised past wishful thinking. You suggest that there is somehow this pot of gold sitting there that no one has bothered to look for due to a lack of infrastructure? Did you notice that oil was discovered at the very top of Alaska without any infratructure to support it? You're also overlooking the fact that South Korea and Japan would have to ship by ocean going boat over the the new Russian railroad for shipment to the USA.

     Why do you think that all that traffic that doesn't exist now will flow from Asia to the USA on a not yet built, extremely expensive  railroad and not on the existing ships leaving from existing ports?

      I used 'never' as my opinion. Sure, there's the possibility that our country could subsidize a money losing proposition with all that spare money the federal government has left over. Of course, we could get China and Russia to chip in. So yes, I suppose it's possible. I'd give it odds of about 1 in a billion.

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Posted by Fred M Cain on Monday, October 09, 2017 1:58 PM

This is actually an on-again, off-again, on-again, off-again and now MAYBE on again plan that has been playing out since at LEAST the 1950s.

Part of the problem was that when the idea really got going, America was in a massive highway expansion mode.  The interest just wasn't hot enough.

I can distinctly recall reading a TRAINS Magazine article many years ago telling how construction actually started in extreme northern British Columbia but then stopped again.  The article  had a picture of the abandoned right of way that had been graded but never actually received rails if I remember right.

Then later in the 1960s, the CNR stepped forward and offered to build the line.  Not sure what alignment they had in mind but they were in a sort of expansionist mood at the time.  Well our good "friend" Richard Nixon somehow killed that idea in its embryonic stage.  I recall that it was reported he didn't like the idea of a government owned railway from Canada building a line on America soil.

At the time I though that was rather strange since in the late '60s, the CNR already had FOUR subsidiaries operating in the US!  (Grand Trunk, Grand Trunk Western, Cental Vermont and DW&P). No matter.  "Please don't confuse us with the facts" as Samuel Clemens was reported to have quipped.

But the idea remains very much alive at least politically.

Read here:

https://www.alaskapublic.org/2017/05/24/hes-back-former-gov-murkowski-pitches-alaska-canada-rail-link-again/

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Monday, October 09, 2017 3:09 PM

Not in my lifetime so maybe an unbiased look. 

1.  Minerals  --  just depends on where they are located in relation to any line.  That includes northern Canada.

2.  Top Perma frost melting in summer   --  definitely an engineering factor.

3.  Cold rail in winter  --  how to deal with pull aparts.  Maybe shorter rail  sections not welded ??   Also need special steel to handle -60 degree temperatures.

4.  Locos,  Cars, wheels and especially brake systems to handle extreme cold.  Would be interesting to know how Russia handles those temperatures in Siberia.

5.  Earthquake hardening

5.  Crewing of trains.  Would expect that crew resr would need to be on trains such as done in Australia

6.  Signal systems to handle extreme cold.

7.  How is MOW going to be based and accomplished in a full wilderness.

8.  How to stage products for building

9.  ARR solves these problems and would be interesting how they do it

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Posted by Fred M Cain on Tuesday, October 10, 2017 11:16 AM

blue streak 1

9.  ARR solves these problems and would be interesting how they do it

 

 
Blue Streak,
 
You left off a big one!  Environmental concerns.  The environmentalist community would have an absolute "field day" with a new railroad to Alaska.  Never mind that highways are far more environmentaly damaging.  It's really too bad they didn't just build the line in the 1950s or '60s.  It probably woud've been a whole lot easier and cheaper to do back then.  No environmental mitigation.  No multi-million (or billion) dollar settlements to First Nation Communities.  Just build the damn thing, that's all.
 
As for AAR and how they do it,  think about some of those Russion lines in Siberia?  They operate under even harsher conditions.  Speaking of Russia, I remind myself that there has also been an on-again, off-again, on-again, off again plan to build a railway from the lower 48 to Alaska then on to Nome and across the Bering Strait to Russia and the Far East.  I know, I know, just a bit "pie in the sky", eh?
 
Here's a link to one of the web sites: 
 
 
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Posted by Murphy Siding on Tuesday, October 10, 2017 1:29 PM

Fred M Cain
 
Here's a link to one of the web sites: 
 
 
Regards,
Fred M. Cain
 

From the link above: $15 million per mile of double track in North America, $30 million in Asia. (Estimates) Total cost $250 Billion dollars.

If you had to finance $250 Billion at, say 5% for 30 years, your monthly mortage service payment would be $1.34 Billion per month. How much freight do you have to carry just to cover the mortgage?


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Posted by CMStPnP on Tuesday, October 10, 2017 1:29 PM

Fred M Cain
I know, I know, just a bit "pie in the sky", eh?

Today's "pie in the sky" could very well be tommorrow's get it done project.

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Posted by Murphy Siding on Tuesday, October 10, 2017 1:33 PM

Fred M Cain
 
blue streak 1

9.  ARR solves these problems and would be interesting how they do it

 

 

 
Blue Streak,
 
You left off a big one!  Environmental concerns.  The environmentalist community would have an absolute "field day" with a new railroad to Alaska.  Never mind that highways are far more environmentaly damaging.  It's really too bad they didn't just build the line in the 1950s or '60s.  It probably woud've been a whole lot easier and cheaper to do back then.  No environmental mitigation.  No multi-million (or billion) dollar settlements to First Nation Communities.  Just build the damn thing, that's all.
 
 
Regards,
Fred M. Cain
 

I dunno... Seems like there should be some concern for the environment don’t you think? They’d be building through wilderness areas with a lot of wildlife, plant life and water. If it’s not done right, you could have an incredible disaster on your hands.

 

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Posted by Murphy Siding on Tuesday, October 10, 2017 1:35 PM

CMStPnP
 
Fred M Cain
I know, I know, just a bit "pie in the sky", eh?

 

Today's "pie in the sky" could very well be tommorrow's get it done project.

 

Could be, but you haven't yet given a good case for why. What is there that's going to spur all that development on the west coast of Alaska?

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Posted by CMStPnP on Tuesday, October 10, 2017 1:39 PM

Murphy Siding
If you had to finance $250 Billion at, say 5% for 30 years, your monthly mortage service payment would be $1.34 Billion per month. How much freight do you have to carry just to cover the mortgage?

Thats a narrow straight-line analysis.   Only two issues I have with those.   #1  Developed for depreciation in Accounting more than Economic outlook.   #2.  Based on a always false presumption that nothing else changes in those 30 years.

It's a good start but probably not the right method.   Alaska and Russia's economy would be growing substantially faster due to the rail link as you would presume traffic on the rail line would be increasing year over year.    The other presumption is that the project would be entirely privately financed which is almost never the case with any large scale project........governments can't help but jump in and scoop up some of the credit if it appears the project might be a success.

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Posted by Fred M Cain on Tuesday, October 10, 2017 1:40 PM

Murphy Siding
 
I dunno... Seems like there should be some concern for the environment don’t you think? They’d be building through wilderness areas with a lot of wildlife, plant life and water. If it’s not done right, you could have an incredible disaster on your hands.

 

Well, yes, to a point I think that's right but I still think that when it comes to protecting the evironment, rail lines are more environmentally "friendly" that highways.

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Posted by Fred M Cain on Tuesday, October 10, 2017 1:45 PM

Murphy Siding

 

 
CMStPnP
 
Fred M Cain
I know, I know, just a bit "pie in the sky", eh?

 

Today's "pie in the sky" could very well be tommorrow's get it done project.

 

 

 

Could be, but you haven't yet given a good case for why. What is there that's going to spur all that development on the west coast of Alaska?

 

 

Well, we have to watch that we don't get two different things mixed up here.  My "pie in the sky" comment had more to do with a U.S. - Asia rail link across Alaska and the Bering strait.  The "why" for that plan is given on that website that I provided the link to.

One real problem I can see with a project like that is the fact that Russo-American relations are not real great right now. That will certainly need to change.

Another issue is a guage problem.  I think the Russian rail lines use broad gauge

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Posted by Murphy Siding on Tuesday, October 10, 2017 2:19 PM

CMStPnP
 
Murphy Siding
If you had to finance $250 Billion at, say 5% for 30 years, your monthly mortage service payment would be $1.34 Billion per month. How much freight do you have to carry just to cover the mortgage?

 

Thats a narrow straight-line analysis.   Only two issues I have with those.   #1  Developed for depreciation in Accounting more than Economic outlook.   #2.  Based on a always false presumption that nothing else changes in those 30 years.

It's a good start but probably not the right method.   Alaska and Russia's economy would be growing substantially faster due to the rail link as you would presume traffic on the rail line would be increasing year over year.    The other presumption is that the project would be entirely privately financed which is almost never the case with any large scale project........governments can't help but jump in and scoop up some of the credit if it appears the project might be a success.

 

Fair enough, but you still have to take into account those big numbers in order to get the public to let their lawmakers throw in a bunch of money.

     What is the traffic going to be from Russia and Alaska that is going to be growing?

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Posted by Murphy Siding on Tuesday, October 10, 2017 2:22 PM

Fred M Cain
 
Murphy Siding
 
I dunno... Seems like there should be some concern for the environment don’t you think? They’d be building through wilderness areas with a lot of wildlife, plant life and water. If it’s not done right, you could have an incredible disaster on your hands.

 

 

Well, yes, to a point I think that's right but I still think that when it comes to protecting the evironment, rail lines are more environmentally "friendly" that highways.

Regards,

Fred M. Cain

 

I agree with you, but both have the potential to have big accidents. That needs to be taken into account as far as impact on the environment. Remember that you'd have to have the support of the people of Alaska, the state where the Exxon Valdez oil spill made a big mess.

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Tuesday, October 10, 2017 2:49 PM

Did not list enviroment as was basically just looking at engineering problems.  But there will be some engineering problems to mitigate any sensitive area.  On the other hand the present EPA in DC may give short shriff to any nimy concerns.

From what we have read the Russian broad guage switch may have a near term solution.  It appears that an of the trans Siberian RR has a very limited need at present for direct service.  By building the whole route to China at Standard guage that would eliminate 2 changes of bogies there by probably saving 12  - 24 hours at each border crossing. Any reports of what the transit times now for China - Europe border crossings ?

At the intersection of the trans Siberian RR to the line to China there would be a single change of guage for internal Russian traffic.  That same Russian location for change of guage would also be available for thru trains to Europe from US.

The Russian portion of the standard guage could have its cross ties ( sleepers in rest of world parlance ) wide enough to add an outside rail for the Russian guage if ever needed. 

A  big problem would be train inspections.  Have no idea what Russia and China require but present US FRA requirements are well kown so a major staging area for inspections on the west coast of Alaska would be needed.

Traffic that far into the future is impossible to predict.  Looking at the Sunset ( UP ) and BNSF traffic we can probably see that a complete double track line will be needed.  As well 3 and 4 tracks for those locations that are heavy grade sections.  Traffic would definitely need 2 MTs due to having to take sections out of service more often due to weather extremes.

Building the tunnel bores would probably have 4 - 6 cross overs sections for the accidents that will happen in the tunnel bores.  That

is much like the Chunnel. The constant mild temperatures in the tunnel bores helps reduce failures of rolling stock however the necessity of warming sheds entering a bore and cooling sheds on other end is a possible need ?  

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Posted by MidlandMike on Tuesday, October 10, 2017 7:50 PM

blue streak 1

...

The Russian portion of the standard guage could have its cross ties ( sleepers in rest of world parlance ) wide enough to add an outside rail for the Russian guage if ever needed. 

...

 

Standard gauge and Russian 5' gauge are too close together to 3 rail.

Anyway the Russians would not allow the standard gauge link across their territory, as it's not in their national interest.  They would not be able utilize the track with their own equipment.  Additionally, a direct standard gauge link between China and the US would favor China, at the expense of Russia and their broad gauge lines.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Tuesday, October 10, 2017 9:49 PM

Murphy Siding
What is the traffic going to be from Russia and Alaska that is going to be growing?

It would be cheaper to ship from CONUS and Alaska supplies for Oil Drilling and Pipelines to the Russian Far East than it would to ship from Europe.    Russia to U.S. depends on what Russia develops but I would imagine Korea which is not unified now but probably will be in the next 10-20 years, would ship autos and China consumer goods via Russia.

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Posted by cx500 on Tuesday, October 10, 2017 10:27 PM

Dreams of the proposed railroad opening up development of Alaskan riches are probably just that, dreams.  I'm not saying the resources don't exist; it's just that they are a long way from where the markets are and most can be found a lot closer.  A consumer is looking for the cheapest source and the cost to transport a commodity 3,000 miles is going to be significantly more than one only 300 miles away.  To be competitive that cost difference must be absorbed by the originator by reducing what he actually receives for his product, rendering many potential projects uneconomic.  A high value item such as gold can afford high transportation costs but it is an exception, nor will it travel in trainload quantities.  High volume low value resources such as iron will head towards a seaport by the shortest route possible rather than use the dream railroad.

The concern about the cold is needless.  It is more difficult operating in winter, as countless railroaders will attest, but for something like 130 years the trains have kept running in Canada and across the northern plains of the USA.  Winter may be longer in some parts of Alaska but that is the only major difference.  Permafrost is the major challenge, as exemplified by the continuing battle to maintain the line to Churchill over the past 80 years.  (The recent floods which closed the line are a separate problem.)

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