Plans for a new high-speed transport corridor that could potentially link London and New York by rail and superhighway have been unveiled.
The idea, dubbed the Trans-Eurasian Belt Development (TERP), would see a high speed railway and motorway built from Eastern Europe, across Siberia and over the Bering Strait to Alaska.
Vladimir Yakunin, the head of Russia’s state railways, told a meeting of the Russian Academy of Sciences that the project could link existing networks and supercharge global economic growth.
It would also feature oil and gas pipelines to connect Russia’s petro-industries more directly to the rest of the world.
“This is an inter-state, inter-civilization, project. It should be an alternative to the current 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,” he said, according to the Siberian Times newspaper.
The plan was developed by the transport boss alongside the rector of Moscow State University, Viktor Sadovnichy and academic Gennady Osipov.
Alaska is already connected to the United States by superhighway through Canada, along the Alaksa Highway – though there is no existing passenger rail network.
The Alaska highway links to the US interstate network which can take motorists to all corners of the United States and beyond.
In pictures: The smartest cities in the world
In pictures: The smartest cities in the world
1/7 Arlington County, Virginia, USA
Appearing for the third time as a Top7 Intelligent Community, Arlington has used smart planning to leverage the benefits of its location near Washington, DC. Arlington looks to continue its growth into the future with its Telecom Master Plan, the innovative work being done at Virginia Tech and The Arlington Way, a formal structure of more than 40 citizen advisory groups and commissions, which influence decisions on everything from land use to technology, and intense collaboration among government, business and the nonprofit sector to spur innovation
2/7 Columbus, Ohio, USA
On the Top7 Intelligent Communities of the Year list for the third year in a row, Columbus has the highest metropolitan concentration of Fortune 1000 companies in the USA. Columbus aims to overcome its biggest challenge – a large, low-income population stranded by the decline of low-skilled factory employment – with programs increasing collaboration among government, education, business and institutions. Columbus is now one of a handful of US metros that turned a continuous and persistent period of brain drain into brain gain in 2007-2009. Employment growth in skilled manufacturing has exceeded 35% over the past decade. And in 2013, Columbus was named one of the top 10 cities in the US for new college grads
3/7 Ipswich, Queensland, Australia
Ipswich is appearing on the Top7 Intelligent Communities of the Year list for the first time. In 2011, Ipswich published a 20-year economic development plan designed to combat its challenges and prepare for the ones to come. When the Australian government’s National Broadband Network was announced in 2009, Ipswich partnered with local communities to create what they called the Western Corridor National Broadband Network and attract national investment. A Digital Hub project and Digital Enterprise program are equipping citizens and business with digital skills, while Ipswich begins a major redevelopment of its city center, where digital technologies will be used to attract tenants and to improve public safety. Green standards will make the center one of the most sustainable in Australia
4/7 Mitchell, South Dakota, USA
Making its first appearance as a Top7 Intelligent Community of the Year, the rural community of Mitchell has been shaped by declining demand for employment in agriculture. A strategic plan developed in the late 1980s, named Vision 2000, called for a community-wide emphasis on education, healthcare, infrastructure and recreation. It led to the merger of two hospitals, creating a unified healthcare system that became the city’s biggest employer, and the construction of new schools that partnered with the local university and recreation center to advance educational excellence. Telecommunications development has created another economy on top of Mitchell’s agricultural one, consisting of engineering, consulting and software companies that have made Mitchell into a regional hub for expertise and services. ICF said it demonstrates the hope that broadband and new ideas in planning offer to rural communities and towns
5/7 New Taipei City, Taiwan
New Taipei City is appearing for the second consecutive year as a Top7 Intelligent Community – a feat all the more impressive because the city was only formed in 2010 from the county surrounding Taiwan’s capital city of Taipei. Mayor Eric Chu, the founding mayor of the city and a national political figure, set out to transform a loose collection of suburban cities and rural land into a unified metropolis. Massive investment went into high-speed roads and rails to unite the doughnut-shaped city, while broadband advances coupled with a Knowledge-Bridge project has driven industry-university collaboration projects and provided talent and job matchmaking
6/7 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Rio de Janeiro, a first time Top7 Intelligent Community of the Year, is a city as famous for its natural beauty and Carnival spirit as for its crime-plagued slums. But ambition, good luck and more innovative leadership have given the city a boost. Rio’s hosting of the 2014 World Cup, as well as winning the right to host the 2016 Summer Olympics, gave the city opportunities to revitalize itself, plan a range of future-centered activities, including a better transportation system and to deal with long-standing infrastructure problems. ICT programs such as The Knowledge Squares and The Rio Datamine have also helped Rio in it’s mission to create a future worthy of its nickname: Cidade Maravilhosa or the Marvelous City
7/7 Surrey, British Columbia, Canada
Surrey, another first-time Top7 Intelligent Community, is a city in transition from a suburban past in the shadow of Vancouver to a sustainable urban future. To gain greater control over its destiny, Surrey has developed a diversification strategy calling for deepening the partnership between its institutions of higher learning and local business. Development is focused on an Innovation Boulevard project, where the city, universities and business are building clusters in health technology, clean tech and advanced manufacturing. Overseeing the project is the Mayor’s Health Technology Working Group, comprised of 50 representatives from universities, a health authority, nonprofits, business associations, government and developers
In Eastern Europe the European Union is separately drawing up plans for a high speed rail corridor to connect the Baltic states to Western Europe’s high speed rail network – which runs through the Channel Tunnel to London.
North American passenger railways are comparative undeveloped, however. Plans drawn up by President Obama to develop high speed rail corridors across the United States have stalled amid opposition.
Bridges and tunnels spanning the Bering Strait have been proposed since the late 19th century but none has ever been built.
Any bridge would likely connect the Chukotka Peninsula in Russia and the Seward Peninsula in Alaska, and could be supported by two small islands that lie in the middle of the strait.
The Russian government has expressed public support for a number of proposals in recent years but ground has not been broken on any of them.
China and Russia also unveiled a separate plan last year to connect Moscow and Beijing by high speed rail, as well as a plan for a continent-spanning rail network that could cross the Bering Strait.