The Eurasian Great Power Alliance: Bering Strait for Development

In a humorously alarmed headline today, the Vancouver Sun asks, “Is China planning a high-speed rail line to Canada?” China’s high-speed rail plans are everywhere now, and the Sun worries that now it is teaming up with Russia. The Newspaper reports:”A high-speed rail service could one day haul travelers from China to Canada, according to a pair of recent reports from Russian and Chinese state-funded news sites,”…”What seems like a flight of fancy — a rail line that stretches from Asia to North America via a tunnel under the Bering Strait — could be on solid footing, according to the reports by China Daily and RIA Novosti.”

Vancouver alarms notwithstanding, Moscow Times May 27 ran a long analysis article, “Russia-China Rapprochement Runs Deep,” which reveals new details about the significance of the May 20-21 meetings of President Putin with President Xi.

The Times says that it is not any illusory Russian threat to the Baltics or Eastern Europe that the Obama White House and NATO are concerned about. Rather, Russia and China have turned decisively toward an economic integration which will be “like the U.S. and Canada”, China being the United States in the analogy. The deals agreed upon, says the Times, have typically been discussed for many years, but were all agreed upon now, both for economic and for political purposes.

Examples:

  • Russia will build floating nuclear plans for China
  • Russia is lifting its dual-use technology restrictions for China
  • China’s Great Wall carmaker will build plants and autos in Russia
  • The gas/oil/pipeline agreement
  • China wants to build rail infrastructure in Russia.

“Most of the agreements include the involvement of large and politically influential state-owned Chinese companies in the Russian economy.”

The paper also notes that “Putin is scheduled to make an even more ‘significant’ visit to China in November, and both sides will probably try to prepare an even greater range of agreements for leaders to sign, especially because Moscow’s confrontation with the West over Ukraine is likely to grow worse by then.”

In Germany and Ukraine, Mag-Lev, not War

Looking forward to the upcoming election campaign for state parliament in Saxony, the eastern-most state of Germany with a lot of economic and scientific contacts to eastern Europe and Russia, the most urgent, earlier debates in that state about building a modern maglev grid are being revitalized. The maglev issue, of which the BüSo party of Helga Zepp-LaRouche have been the leading advocates for some time, has now also been adopted by the top candidate of the Piraten party for the state for the September elections, Florian Andre Unterburger, who just recently called for a maglev pioneering project connecting the state capital Dresden with the Czech capital Prague, for an estimate cost of that line being about 4 billion Euros. Passengers could make the distance between both cities in 45 minutes at most, Unterburger said.
Connecting Ukraine; advanced prototypes

Since interest in having such a line as the first segment of a longer maglev line also connecting Budapest, Belgrade, and beyond in the Balkans was signaled from Hungary and Serbia several years ago, it makes sense to resume discussion about such a project now. From Prague, the maglev could go also to Bratislava, and from there on to Kiev, branching out shortly past the Slovakian-Ukrainian border southward to Odessa and on to Crimea. That should be of particular interest also for Russia, where discussion about developing a Trans-Siberian maglev surfaced at the May 21-22 St. Petersburg Economic Forum, as Itar-Tass reported.Speaking of “maglev,” people usually think of the German Transrapid 09, the version that also runs in Shanghai for passenger transfer; but the development of a freight version is long overdue and would make maglev transportation even more attractive, because of the speed of about 200 kilometers/hour which can be achieved by neither standard trains, nor by trucks. Standard freight trains in Germany scarcely go faster than 80 km/h, most of the time even less; in eastern Europe, freight trains go at 40-60 km/h, rather less.

Researchers in Dresden have a project going at the Leibniz Institute of Materials Research which sees superconductivity as the main innovation for the Transrapid: the SuperTrans is designed for urban and freight passenger transport for the time being, but it may also serve for longer-distance freight transport. So far, a test track of 80 meters is being used at the institute; performance of the experimental SuperTrans miniature prototype is reported to be promising.

A superconducting maglev is being built in Japan, from Tokyo, eventually to Osaka. Also China’s scientists and engineers have gone beyond the Transrapid (Shanghai) system and are developing a superconducting maglev. This technology was pioneered at Brookhaven Laboratory in New York.

Maglev Train Technology Finds Interest in Russia, Again

As Itar-Tass reported last week, maglev technology for the trains of the future in Russia was discussed on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg Economic Forum. According to this report, Rosatom Corp. and Russian Railways (RZD) plan joint development of high-speed trains on the basis of magnetic levitation (maglev) in Russia, signing an agreement at the Forum on May 22.

The new train in Russia would cover the 9,300 kilometer distance between Moscow and the Far East city of Vladivostok in less than 20 hours, whereas conventional trains cannot make the distance in less than six days, currently.

This new train will require new rails that could be developed at the Yefremov Institute of Electrophysical Apparatus on the basis of permanent magnets and superconducting materials, said Rosatom’s Director General Sergey Kiriyenko. Manufacturing would not depend on imported components, the official added, thus creating a new high-tech segment of the Russian market able to compete with foreign producers on the global market in the future.
Test Track for Maglev envisaged near St. Petersburg

Russian Railways (RZD) is partnering with state-owned nuclear power company Rosatom to research the use of maglev technology for freight transport. The cooperation agreement, signed on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg Economic Forum a week ago, includes the creation of a 3-kilometer test system in the port of Ust-Luga.

“We are talking about moving the containers as a pilot project, but it is not limited to the movement of containers in terms of handling containers will be transported by sufficiently large distances,” President of RZD Vladimir Yakunin said. “When a technology is mature when they become compatible scientific ideas and their economic incarnation, then it will be implemented.”

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