Russian authorities are reportedly considering an ambitious superhighway project that would connect the UK to the US, allowing people to travel over land from Europe across Asia and all the way to Alaska – a distance of more than 12,000 miles.
According to the Siberian Times, the route would use roads and a high-speed network to connect Asia with Europe and would see the construction of a new rail network to operate alongside the Trans-Siberian Railway. In addition, the Trans-Eurasian Belt Development (TEPR) project would include the construction of major roads, oil and gas pipelines and energy and water facilities.
Russian Railways chief Vladimir Yakunin presented the proposal at a recent Russian Academy of Science meeting, noting that the new roads and railways would connect with existing travel networks in Europe and other parts of the world. It may also be extended from the Chukotka area of Russia across the Bering Strait and into North America, with the goal of boosting tourism and establishing Russia as a global transportation hub, according to The Telegraph.
When combined with the use of the Channel Tunnel in the UK, it could make land-based trips from London and surrounding areas to North America a possibility, the newspaper noted. The project would run the entire length of Russia while also connecting with pre-existing networks throughout Europe and Asia, making it the first modern transportation route to ever connect the Pacific Ocean in the east with the Atlantic Ocean in the West.
“This is an inter-state, inter-civilization, project,” Yakunin said. “It should be an alternative to the current (neo-liberal) model, which has caused a systemic crisis. The project should be turned into a world ‘future zone’, and it must be based on leading, not catching, technologies.”
Vladimir Fortov, the Head of the Russian Academy of Science, called the project “ambitious and expensive,” but added that it “will solve many problems in the development of the vast region. It is connected with social programs, and new fields, new energy resources, and so on.”
Rough estimates of the project indicate that it could require millions of dollars (No, really?), but officials are confident that the economic gains it produces would offset these costs. If the concept proves to be a success, it could create 10 to 15 new industries, as well as several new cities throughout the country, more jobs and further development of Siberia and the Far East, they claim.
“The principal attraction of the journey is, of course, the Russian landscape,” said Telegraph Travel rail expert Anthony Lambert, “the vast panoramas and sense of immensity so vividly captured by such artists as Isaac Levitan and Ivan Shishkin. The taiga is mesmerizing.”
“Looking out at the panorama of larch, silver fir, pine and birch induces the kind of reverie that is one of the pleasures of train travel, a random stream of thoughts and images that drifts on like the forest,” he added. “In clearings, villages that could have come from a Levitan or Shishkin painting break the spell and make one wonder what life must be like in such a remote land.”
For insight into what this journey might look like, check out Ewan McGregor’s 2004 TV documentary Long Way Round.