New Technologies Developed by Russian Engineers for Bering Strait
International transport System is the base for consolidation of economics and world peace


Konstantin Krylov

120 years passed since the day that William Gilpin the governor of Colorado voiced the idea of connecting the North America and Europe by a railway through the Bering Strait. At the beginning of the 20th century, the project was approved by Nicolai II the Russian Tsar and Sergei Vitte the prime-minister of Russia. Although the project even at the beginning of the 20th century was considered technically feasible and economically substantiated, up to now it has never been practically realized.

Following is the interview about the recent technical developments facilitating the realization of the said project. We are discussing this issue with two scholars. One of them is Professor Yakov Mesenzhnik (the President of the International Academy for Integration of Science and Business, Ambassador for Peace, Honored worker of science of Russia, International Academy of Engineering prize-winner «For Outstanding Contribution to Science and Technology», honorary member of the Russian Tsiolkovsky Academy of Cosmonautics, Doctor of technical sciences). The other is Anatoly Yunitskiy the General Constructor of String Transport Yunitskiy Systems

K. K. — Prof. Mesenzhnik, what in your opinion are the reasons of such a long delay in the realization of Bering Strait project so important for integration of Russian and US economy?

Y. M. — The 20th century was a time of confrontation of two social and economic systems. During «cold war» period there were objective reasons that prevented the realization of the project; the primal cause was a political confrontation between USSR and USA. With the improvement of the relations between USA and Russia at the beginning of the 21st century, there arose political conditions for realization of this strategically important undertaking aimed at developing economics not only of Russia and USA, but also of the whole world community.

K. K. — Beside the political aspect, are there other difficulties on the way of fulfilling the Bering Strait Transportation Link project?

Y. M. — In the 21st century, there appeared new technological facilities for realization of this project. Building the tunnel across the Bering Strait will not start until Russia, USA and Canada come to an agreement about the coordinated terms to finish building railway sections on Eurasian and American sides with corresponding infrastructure. According to my estimation, the total cost of the whole complex of construction works will be about $99 billion. But it is well known that during practical realization, especially on the Russian side, in view of special character of the territory where this transport pass-through will be laid, the cost could in reality increase several times.

The running costs of the said transport link, in extreme conditions of the North, would be substantial. Experience of running northern railway lines proves that operation costs considerably exceed costs of construction. In addition, this should be a high speed line to cover rapidly sizable distances, and consequently, it’ll come to additional increase of construction and operation costs.

In addition, the construction of a subaquatic tunnel across the Bering Strait could become a matter of decades and consequently the estimated costs of the tunnel could substantially increase. If we consider time and price costs in total, it comes out that by means of old technologies, namely, by building overland railways and roads, as well as crossing the Bering Strait through a subaquatic tunnel, realization of the said project within a short period of time will not be possible.

Realization of this project is urgent not only from a position of development of economics in the commonwealth nations, but it is the basis for expanding and strengthening inter-civilization relations. Higher integration of economics on mutually beneficial foundation, their specialization and cooperation lays the way towards world peace.

Expansion of interaction of interdependent economics and thus creating conditions for their mutual progress can serve as a foundation for reducing tension in relations between nations. From this position, the sooner this project is realized, the more stable will become the economic foundation for world peace.

K. K. — Why do you think that only the above mentioned nations should be interested in realization of the project?

Y. M. — Russia, USA and Canada should take the lead in realization of this project. But also other neighboring nations of Russia in the Far East (Japan, South and North Korea) can be participants. And of course, there’s also the Republic of China. The project will make it possible to increase commodity circulation with the nations of the American continent.

K. K. — What do you think, why the mentioned by you nations are not enough enthusiastic in this issue?

Y. M. — I think the problem is not just the expenditure level. The point is that realization of the project could turn out to be a world protracted construction. Both Russia and USA have problems in development of their economies. Therefore, realization of the project on a short-term basis might be considered undesirable by both nations. However, in the long-run perspective, participation in realization of the project for them is no less timely than for those countries where this international transportation link will run through.

K. K. — What in your opinion should be the status of the transportation link across the Bering Strait?

Y. M. — The proposed transcontinental transportation link should be protected by jurisdiction of the countries territorially involved. Concerning the section under the Bering Strait, it should be protected by the international jurisdiction. It is indispensable that along the International transportation link, on the national boarders, there should be provided a facility to block the tunnel to prevent the pass of undesirable or hostile vehicles.

K. K. — What do you think would be the way to accelerate realization of this project?

Y. M. — I think time acceleration and considerable lowering of both working and operating expenditure could be possible by using new breakthrough technologies. Why should the tunnel be subaquatic and the transport components — mandatory ordinary motor roads and railroads? Why not use elevated, overpass, or above-water railroads applying «string transport» technologies. Such were designed by Anatoly Yunitskiy the member of International Academy of Science and Technology Integration.

K. K. — The length of the world transport ways in total makes more than 35 million km, among them; 32 million km are highways, more than 1.2 million km are railroads, and about 1.0 million km are pipe lines. Are there no transport systems based on string technologies?

Y. M. — This is true. But as we know, realization of an idea sometimes takes decades of time. This was the case with technologies of Prof. Yunitskiy, who within the period of 34 years has developed already the 4th generation of the string transport system. Neither of his inventions received practical implementation, despite many positive expert opinions and gold medals in acknowledgment of «Yunitskiy String Technologies» perspective value.

I think the problem is not the technical part of the project but ironically its low costs and high economical effectiveness. The economics of Russia continues to be cost-based. It makes possible to provide occupation for a considerable group of population; meanwhile the bureaucracy will have a chance for enrichment. Western economy does not much differ in this respect by low costs. Therefore, beside psychological resistance of the «new idea», there’s also a motivation slow-down in promoting innovation technologies. And the people who make final decisions do not have necessary political will to promote building of a test-sector where it could be possible to test separate elements and the transport system ready-fitted. It might be possible they do not know that every year 1, 5 million people die due to traffic accidents. 50 million become crippled. It is absolutely unacceptable from human point of view. It is tragic for sustainable and effective development of the world community.

If we calculate how much land is used for laying roads and consider ecological damage caused by motor transport, we’ll see that there is nothing so efficient and substantiated like elevated and trestle railroads and highways both in overland and subaquatic variants.

Constructing elevated and trestle railroads and highways parallel to the functioning transport systems and «covering» the Earth with transport means of the second level (upper floor) is one of the most effective ways to manage the world crisis.

K. K. — String Transport Yunitskiy was presented at exhibitions and in media since decades. It is still not being implemented. It seems, the time for realizing these technologies is not yet come?

Y. M. — In this connection I would like to remind the words of Victor Hugo:

«There is nothing stronger than the ideas whose time has come».

It was possible to start practicing string technologies already ten years ago. Now they become very timely. Therefore, interest to Yunitskiy String Technologies is permanently growing. National transport systems are huge branches of the industry that is now on the verge of grandiose changes connected with the following objective factors:

  • Petroleum dependence, the resources are not unlimited. Different methods of increasing effectiveness of the use of oil could postpone but not avert coming the time when oil products will become unobtainable for using on transport;
  • High consumption of materials of the modern construction technologies and high operation costs of modern transport systems;
  • Low economic effect of modern transport systems;
  • High level of danger, especially on the land surface transport systems;
  • Low moving speed; experience shows that increase of speed in the surface motion involves many limitations.

Additionally, the part of transport component in production cost is permanently growing, and in Russia it is much higher then that in more developed industrial nations. Now motorways occupy more than 60 million hectares of land and this territory is expanding; we should consider it land squandering. Thus, the time to realize these technologies is not just ripe, it’s overripe. For further development of humanity they become most urgent.

K. K. — What kind of problems could be solved by means of transport systems of «second level» based on Yunitskiy String Technologies?

Y. M. — I’ll explain it in a few words by telling the essence: string transport systems provide high throughput capacity by:

  • High speed movement (up to 500km per hour) and low costs of construction and operation;
  • High ecological level and small consumption of land;
  • High operation safety;
  • Use of electric traction with further switching over to renewable energy sources without additional expenditure.

String transport systems are especially timely in megalopolises because through the speed transport system of the second level (above the houses by making use of the specially constructed tall buildings in the capacity of overpasses) it would be possible to solve the existing transport problems. At the same time, these transport systems will permit to deconcentrate the territory of the megalopolises minimizing damage caused to environment. This kind of transport has no alternative in crossing wetland, jungles, tundra, permafrost, by transportation of mineral raw materials from difficult of access territories.

K. K. — And what are the shortcomings of the string transport systems? The advantages always come with shortcomings.

Y. M. — There’s in my opinion only one minus: we have no functioning section of the string transport road; but this minus will be quickly eliminated when we start implementing the technologies.

It is well known that only by walking one can come to the end of the road. No doubt, during practical realization there could arise some difficulties, but they are surmountable in the process of implementation and development.

The main thing is that the potential of the modern industry is sufficient (with a small exception) for building the String Transport Yunitskiy Systems, including realization of know-how technologies.

K. K. — At the beginning of the interview, we discussed issues connected to building of a transcontinental transport system and crossing the Bering Strait. What is the potential of String Transport Yunitskiy Systems for realizing the project in the 21st century?

Y. M. — Really, more than 120 years they only talked about urgency of realization of the project, but made no practical steps towards actual work. The International Transcontinental Transport System Japan — South Korea — North Korea — Russia — USA including the above-water crossing of the Bering Strait is the goal that deserves attention; its realization is possible on the basis of String Transport Yunitskiy Systems during the initial stage of forming the International String Transport System. For realization of the project, it is necessary that governments of the above mentioned nations show their interest in the project. Realization is possible on the state and private basis. We could start with building a test-section of 150 — 200 km length: for example on the territory of the South Korea (Pusan — Taegu — Seoul). I think that the questions concerning string technologies can be better answered by Anatoly Yunitskiy.

K. K. — Anatoly Eduardovich, what is String Transport?

A. Y. — Strings are stretched systems of high-strength wire. Such wires are widely used in modern bridge engineering and in stretched and reinforced concrete blocks. The base of the transport system is railing with strings stretched inside and pasted into a firm and hard monolith by special concrete. The wheel of the rail module with protective side rollers is rolling along the rail.

Railing with a string core is fixed on an anchor and intermediate supports; this is a kind of hanging and cable-braced type bridges. According to characteristics of firmness, evenness, rigidity and durability, they meet the existing standards of bridges and overpasses. This kind of supporting construction can be used in any transport of «the second level» (on high speed railroad, trains on magnetic suspension, monorail) instead of costly and material capacious longitudinal supporting beams.

K. K. — What is the origin of the idea? Has it already been realized anywhere?

A. Y. — Even in my childhood, I was interested in the works of Konstantin Tsiolkovsky the first rocket scientist. Like him, I looked for new ways to conquer space. Being a student of the Tyumen Institute of Construction Engineering, I found a solution for non-rocket launching from the surface of the planet and joining the circumterrestrial orbit. While developing this idea I invented the string over-pass. This is the optimal variant of the lengthy supporting construction of «the second level». Later I put on it a special rail motor car that was afterwards called a «Unibus» Thus the idea of the String Transport Yunitskiy Systems was born. It happened more than 30 years ago when I worked as a communications engineer in a road-building company in Gomel, Belarus. The first sample of the freight String Transport Yunitskiy Systems was built on the test-section near the town of Ozery, Moscow region, in 2001. Regional administrators of the Russian Federation showed their interest in my technologies.

K. K. — Do the String Transport Yunitskiy Systems have advantages in comparison to railroads or highways?

A. Y. — Like any other pass-over construction, the rail-and-string road structure could be adapted to any estimated loads for a wide range of moving speeds and different road spans (from 10m up to 3 km). With its low material consumption (steel consumption is the same as for standard rails) this structure could be tenfold cheaper than the traditional pass-over cost, having equal firmness. With no need to build any embankment or bridges, it will be possible to build inexpensive roads in wetland, permafrost and other hard climate circumstances. While transporting identical freight, the String Transport Yunitskiy Systems prove to be several times cheaper than ordinary railroads and motor roads; and transportation by trestle roads is tenfold or cheaper.

K. K. — How could you characterize the transcontinental Bering Strait transport link from the point of view of the string transport development?

A. Y. — Siberia and the Far East of Russia is the richest region with unique nature and but a few roads. And there is no need to build the roads as it is usually the practice of nowadays, because such kind of construction work is very expensive; moreover, the ecosystem of the unique region could be damaged. In the existing situation it would be much cheaper and easier to build string roads. And it is necessary to build not one but a whole system of roads for freight transportation, passengers transportation and combined transportation providing 100-years prospective, because such is the lifetime of the String Transport Yunitskiy Systems. We have developed a system of string roads, analogous of the other natural system of transportation — blood circulatory system that has capillaries, arteries, and aorta. The String Transport Yunitskiy Systems differ by channel width (2,5 mm —up to 2,5 m with a pace of 50 cm) and by rated movement speeds (100, 200, 350, and even 500 km per hour). In all cases the road structure and vehicles will differ considerably by construction, technology and rate of expenditure, sometimes by a factor of ten. Therefore, a system of roads of the «second level» could be optimized and adapted to the assigned long-ranged task proceeding from concrete natural and climate conditions and relief. But for starting the work we need customers-consumers.

K. K. — The Russian media mentioned a possibility of using the string transport in Khanty-Mansi autonomous district of Russia. What was the outcome of the project?

A. Y. — Yes, directly. In November 2007, after presentation of the string technologies to Alexander Filipenko the governor of Ugra Region, at the 3rd International Investment Forum in Khanti-Mansisk city, the cooperation agreement was concluded between my STY Ltd. and the authorities of the Khanty-Mansi autonomous district of Russia. Among the priorities, a city road in Khanti-Mansisk, high speed motorway between Surgut and Khanti-Mansisk cities, and combined freight and passengers high speed motorways for transportation of ore and quarts concentrate in commercial production amounts in the polar part of Ural region of Russia it were made part of the agreement. All these projects could have been realized within 2, 5 — 3 years. Alas, later the other person has been appointed as the governor of the region...

K. K. — What were the economical parameters of the project in Khanti-Mansi autonomous district?

A. Y. — There was not enough time for discussing the costs. In any case, the cost of a rail-and string road structure for city building conditions and a high speed motorway between cities would be total about $2 million per km; freight motor road would cost up to $1 million per km. To illustrate the cost of high speed trestle railroads, here’s one example. On the Taiwan Island, in January 2007, such road, built according to Japanese technologies, was brought into service: its length was 345 km and estimated moving speed was up to 320 km per hour. The total cost was $15 billion.

Economists of the Surgut University in Khanti-Mansisk autonomous district of Russia completed a project feasibility study concerning creating a system of roads in the district, about 2 thousand km length, and defined social and economic benefit after realization of such a strategy; the estimated benefit was about $50 million.

K. K. — For crossing the Bering Strait, it is planned to build an ordinary railroad on both sides. Do you consider this step inefficient?

A. Y. — By using old technologies, the building process of the mentioned transport corridor will be long and expensive. Such roads will be covered by snow during winter time, in summer they will sink in water covering the frozen subsoil. Here we need not only to create infrastructure but also to build road sections to minefields of minerals that will grant utilization of the railroad transport. We offer to build a main line based on String Transport Yunitskiy Systems that will run through all principal minefields, because tracing of String Transport Yunitskiy Systems is not critical in respect of the complicated ground profile with rivers, lakes, swamps and frozen subsoil. It is not only much cheaper but has no negative ecological consequences.

K. K. — Did you present this idea to the authorities?

A. Y. — We have no high-ranking lobbyists. Therefore, as a rule, the more cost-based and less effective projects are accepted; but then these projects look quite intelligible to everybody. Although recently, on all levels of power-holding structures, there’s been much discussion about economics of Russia that should be based on innovations instead of being a source of raw materials; unfortunately, behind talks there’s nothing substantial.

Bureaucracy fears innovations like the devil fears holy water, especially in the field of transport. But it has always been the case. For example, the main opponent of building railroads in 19th century in Russia was ... the Russian Transportation Ministry. It was against building first of Tsarsko-Selskaya (Tsar Village) railroad and then of the one between Moscow and Petersburg, and later of the Trans-Siberian railroad. 18 times the Ministry turned down the proposal of advanced public circles about building the Trans-Siberian. The Transportation Ministry considered the project inappropriate because in the European part of the country the development of animal-drawn transport would be more perspective!

We shouldn’t consider it strange because the Transportation Ministry consists of officials promoting the existing vehicles. The same as cabmen and draymen, or even some professors of animal-drawn sciences, were not able to comprehend the need of railroads, so modern railroad officials are not able to apprehend the String Transport Yunitskiy Systems.

Russia of the 21st century objectively stays in need of building at least 3 — 4 million km of high-performance roads of «the second generation» and first of all, in the Ural and Siberia regions. The territory of Russia being 1.8 times bigger that that of the USA. It has 10 times less span of roads. With this in mind, how can we talk about accelerated development of economics? The well- developed economics means, first of all, low-cost transportation of people, raw materials and products of consumption.

Using the String Transport Yunitskiy Systems for creating national transport systems, including crossing of the Bering Strait, is a strategically important object on the way of increasing the effectiveness of economics of Russia and other countries-participants in creation of an international transport system based on innovation technologies

K. K. — What directions can Bering Strait transportation link connect if performed by string transportation means?

A. Y. — The Eurasian part of the Bering Strait could take:

  • South direction: through Yakutia Region of Russia towards the Trans-Siberian Railway with a necessary connective fork;
  • South direction: along the east coast of Russia through Vladivostok city towards North and South Korea and to Japan;
  • North direction: along the coast of the Arctic ocean through the territory of Russia with forking in Murmansk city to the South of Russia city towards Astrakhan and to Scandinavia and Europe.

On the American continent, it could also provide three directions from the Bering Strait:

  • North direction: across the territory of the USA (Alaska) and then across the territory of Canada from west to east;
  • South direction: through Canada, USA territory up to the Panama canal and then into the South America;
  • West direction: along the Pacific coast through the territory of Canada and west territories of USA.

On both sides of the international transport corridor by string transport, in Eurasia and America, it will be possible to build numerous forking connections regarding needs of economic development of the territories adjoining the road system.

K. K. — Could the existing machine-building industry participate in creating an international transport system by using string technologies?

A. Y. — The string transport consists of principally new high-tech and low-cost road structure as well as effective, economical, and ecological vehicles and infrastructure of «the second level» Instead of investing billions of US dollars into automobile industry, it would be better to invest much less money into the breakthrough transport technologies that provide high speed international transportation. In our world there is the needed machine-building, and raw materials base for starting a wide-range process of creating roads of «the second level» not only in Russia, but also in other countries.