Redefining Product Movement from Asia to North America

Before reading this proposed project outline, I would ask that you suspend your disbelief for a moment as it describes a long term mega-project that could completely transform the global economy between Asia and North America.

I’m sure all of you are familiar with The Chunnel connecting, the UK and Europe, approximately 33 miles long under the English Channel.

You may not however be familiar with the Gotthard Tunnel currently under construction through the Swiss Alps to connect from Germany through to Italy at 80 kilometers. Both of these projects have been built based on specific economic benefits that are relatively modest compared to the project being proposed in this case.

What I’m proposing here is to begin a Feasibility Project for connecting North America to Asia under the Bering Strait which is only a distance of 55 miles through stable non-tectonic granite.

Such a connection would reduce transit times for products sourced in the Orient by 80 percent from roughly 50 days down to 10 days and could also allow for connection with the vast oil and natural gas reserves of the former Soviet Union. This would also take pressure off the ports of North America which will be maxing out faster than capacity can be added and be a more secure option from a container screening perspective. For example, at a conference I recently presented at, Canadian Tire laid out their plans to increase their Far East imports from 50,000 containers this year to 100,000 containers by 2009 to provide just one example of the coming growth.

But most significantly this 80 percent reduction in transit time has the ability to reduce working capital invested in North American product inventories totalling in the trillions of dollars, not to mention the associated costs for storing these inventories. Equally important, such a connection could provide for Canada and other parts of North America a much more efficient means of transporting export resources to the Asian market and in reverse petroleum products from Siberia to reduce reliance on Middle Eastern oil supply.

Best of all this would also lead to a revival in rail, one of our critical defining national achievements, as a relevant mode of transportation for the 21st Century and make Canada a key link in the global supply chain for all products moving from the Orient to all markets in North America.

As many in the logistics business will know, North American ports are at or near capacity, which even with scheduled expansions, the volumes of movement will likely overwhelm the capabilities of ports over the next decade if not sooner. Therefore this project will not replace the current ocean shipping industry, only add additional capacity and provide a shorter lead time option for such product movements. The project we’re proposing here is to create a Great Arch Railway from Asia to North Ameria with a tunnel crossing under the Bering Strait at the apex of the arch.

The first phase will be a major consulting feasibility study to fully define the project, rough plan, costs benefit analysis and required next project steps in order to understand and justify the roughly $100 billion required to complete the project.

At this point, the Supply Chain Network Project is looking for interested companies and individuals to assist with the project including rail experts, long tunnel construction, geology and petroleum industry professionals, as well as macro economists and major project finance experts who are interested in assisting in these initial phases.

Jeff Ashcroft

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