More than a century since Russian Tsar Nicholas II dreamed of an undersea rail link to North America, plans are afoot for the world's longest tunnel to be constructed beneath the Bering Strait.
Connecting Siberia to Alaska, the 103 kilometre tunnel would span a distance twice the length of the England-France 'Chunnel', at a cost of around AU$62 billion.
The tunnel would form part of a larger rail network carrying 100 million tonnes of freight each year from London to New York and everywhere in between, covering three quarters of the Northern Hemisphere.
It is estimated that construction of the tunnel, which would accommodate a high-speed rail service but not a road for motor cars, will take 15 years to complete.
With support from a number of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's top officials, a possible agreement will be proposed to US Government representatives early next month at a conference in Moscow.
If the US gets on-board with the plan and agrees to underwrite a share of the construction, the project could save both nations $18 billion each year, thanks to a pair of giant tidal energy plants that would supply 10 gigawatts of electricity by 2020.
Aleksandr Levinthal, Deputy Federal Representative for the Russian Far East, said the tunnel would eventually carry three percent of the world's freight, making about seven billion dollars each year.
This is not the first time the tunnel has been proposed however, with plans discussed during the Megaprojects Of Russia's East conference in Moscow in 2007.
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