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How about a train to Alaska? Talk about experiential!

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jis

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Seems like a waste of money. Oil is cheap right now, and demand for it will decrease over time. I can't imagine the capital costs are worth it with oil at $40 a barrel.
As I was saying.... the current mindset does not support such an expansion of rail infrastructure in the US. :cool:
 

jiml

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Why? I thought there were Canadian plans on building a pipeline that would carry that oil to a port located in British Columbia..
I could tell you the tale, but it would involve a foray into forbidden political discussion.;) The story is out there - Google "Trudeau buys a pipeline" and draw your own conclusions. If you remember the rail shutdown in Canada before Covid, that's what caused it. With environmental and first nations' opposition, the pipeline has about as much chance of being completed as the railway we're discussing here.
 

cocojacoby

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Costly and environmentally-unfriendly construction methods are not likely to win approval from the Canadian government nor native groups whose land would have to be crossed.

Alberta and the NWT would be much friendlier to job-creating development if it ever gets that far.
You know there is a growing "Wexit" movement in Alberta to leave Canada, right? This just may be the stimulus that makes it succeed. There is even talk of some of the western provinces joining the USA.

Alberta’s secession movement spells trouble for Justin Trudeau

The Americas
Dec 5th 2019 edition
EDMONTON

The 700 people who gathered on a recent Saturday night at the Boot Scootin’ Boogie Dancehall in Edmonton, the capital of the western Canadian province of Alberta, came not to boogie but to vent. Baseball caps for sale bore such slogans as “Make Alberta Great Again”, “The West Wants Out” and “Wexit”. On stage, before a Canadian flag held between hockey sticks and pointed upside down, Peter Downing recited the grievances that drew the crowd: cancelled plans to build oil pipelines, subsidies paid to the rest of Canada and snobbery towards Alberta from the central Canadian provinces.
 

MARC Rider

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On the other hand, having a rail connection capable of operating through winter to the 49th state is a worthwhile goal from a public policy standpoint in and of itself, and if it can mostly pay for itself by transferring oil from our good friend and ally to existing infrastructure (pipeline/Valdez terminal) in Alaska then so much the better. Believe me, I'm all for it; I'm just skeptical that there's enough will to do it to sustain it until completion.
I'm not sure that enabling the entrance of more petroleum into the world market is such a good public policy goal. Our long-term goal in terms of both mitigating climate change and protecting our national security should be to reduce the amount of petroleum available to the markets, so that alternative technologies regimes can get a competitive advantage. In that way. greenhouse gas emissions are reduced and the strategic value of petroleum is also reduced. That Canadian oil should be staying in the ground where it belongs.
 

WWW

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The existing system works just fine !

Imagine all the tunnels that would have to be made to get to where float planes fly to -
Track space for a locomotive and 1 coach car at the dock - no wye to turn around -
Building tracks into pristine wilderness not now not even in the distant future -
Oil talk about moving it from Canada across the USA upper mid west fraught with problems -
What is different here -
There is a pipeline - isn't that enough movement of the oil without further environmental damage -

Count this as a rich man's toy train set dream - to what end - - - - - Yes I like to dream too !
 

jiml

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I'll renew my previously Posted idea for the US and Canada to swap Alaska for Alberta and British Columbia.

Win! Win!🤗
You'd be getting some very pretty country (and great rail routes), but the two new "states" are polar opposites in everything from politics to environmental issues. Think Texas and California with everything that entails.
 

Bob Dylan

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You'd be getting some very pretty country (and great rail routes), but the two new "states" are polar opposites in everything from politics to environmental issues. Think Texas and California with everything that entails.
Having lived in BC,Alberta,California and Texas, I know what you mean!

My late Canadian wife, an NDPer and proud Canuck, used to get upset when I would tease her with this proposal! 🤣
 
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neroden

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IMO the Bering Strait connection is a non-starter; it's just too remote and there's not nearly enough traffic. It would take nearly as long for freight trains to take the roundabout route from China through Siberia to the Strait and down through Alaska and Canada as it would to send a fast container ship direct from Asia to Seattle...
It's faster. "Nearly" means quicker. It's not that roundabout because of, you know, the shape of the globe.

and ocean shipping is dirt cheap.
....not with the tightening of regulations on fuel-burning. Ships are substantially less fuel-efficient than rail. Currently it's cheap because it uses very cheap fuel, but they all have to upgrade to refined marine diesel under the new international treaty regulations. And more regulations will come down the pike after that. I suspect that that changes the calculation of how cheap it is. A LOT.

Passenger transit is an even more blue-sky idea; you'd get more travelers by putting a couple of dozen passenger cabins on those container freighters.
The container freighters actually do sell passenger cabin space. :)

To Jis's point regarding strategy, Russia already considers this a strategic plan and is building the rail line out towards the Bering Strait all on its own with or without US support.

I don't think the plan to export oil from Alberta has a chance. The Bering Strait plan will probably be revived, though. By Russia.
 

Seaboard92

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South Carolina
Honestly I have always seen this as a low hanging fruit. Yes it is a very expensive and complicated fruit. But it is something that would be relatively difficult.

Imagine if you could load an intermodal train in inland China and run all the way to inland USA without having to change railcars. Just locomotives.

Now I'll list all of the problems this has.

-Gauge: China, Canada, and the USA are standard gauge, Russia is on Russian Broad Gauge
-Ring of Fire: This is one of the most active volcanic and earthquake prone regions in the world
-Mountains: Alaska has a ton of mountains one would have to fight to get anywhere near the current Alaska Railroad, and then even more to reach a Canadian Railway.
-Lack of population: That part of Russia and Alaska is scarcely populated. Which means there are no services available to maintain the line. The lack of population is more than about passenger services, but the fact you have to have employees every so many miles for maintenance inspections, signal maintainers, and others. They need to have an ability to get food in, and schools for the kids. It would be a massive undertaking.

That being said I would be the first person to board a train in Chicago to go to Beijing. And I would jump off at every extended dwell stop to photograph the journey.
 
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