The nation that's proposing the railway has ulterior motives.
A new proposal has been set forth to connect passengers from London to Tokyo in an 8,400 mile train, and those who proposed the plan are not whom you would expect: Russia. The Russian government intends for this train to become a part of its network of Trans-Siberian railways, which currently connects Moscow with the Russian Far East and is the longest railway line in the world at 5,772. That length would pale in comparison to this new railway.
The train would begin in London, move through the heart of Russia, cross a proposed 28-mile bridge over the East Sea, and end in Wakkanai, Japan. The bridge is optimistically being called a “bridge across history,” as Russia and Japan remain in an uncomfortable position after never coming to a peace agreement following the Second World War. Their struggle for the Kuril Islands continues.
“We are seriously offering Japanese partners to consider the construction of a mixed road and railway passage from Hokkaido to southern part of Sakhalin,” said Russia’s first vice-premier Igor Shuvalov.
The bridge that would link Sakhalin and Japan has reportedly been a “long-held dream” and would boost oil and gas production in the country. This is a major motive for Russia, as well as the enhancement in visitation in more obscure parts of the large nation. The train will likely attract major travelers, like backpackers and students exploring during their gap year, as it moves through Germany and Poland before reaching Eastern Europe.
This project was allegedly once suggested by Joseph Stalin before the relationship between the two nations took a turn for the worst—Japan owned half of Sakhalin before WWII—and the idea is barely being revived today. Russia is so eager to get everything started that they have already begun their contribution to the railway.
“We are close to starting our part of the job, which is extending the railway to the Pacific shore and the construction of passage of the same complexity from mainland to Sakhalin,” said Shuvalov. “Given modern technologies, it is not even that expensive.”
When the idea was proposed at Russia’s Eastern Economic Forum, which was hosted by President Putin, Putin boasted about all that Russia’s Far East had to offer not only Russia but the world.
‘The Far East offers a unique combination of opportunities and competitive advantages for the implementation of ambitious projects, including preferential tax treatment and streamlined administrative procedures, which are comparable to or even more comfortable than in the best development areas in Asia Pacific and the world,” Putin said in a message.
Japan and Russia are still in talks and have not come up with an agreement as to the development of the railway or the accompanying bridge, but Russia’s quick start on the project has inspired optimism for the rest of the world that the entire proposed railway could come to fruition.