Trans-Siberian Railway Extension Could Link London to Tokyo
A new proposal for the Trans-Siberian railroad could make it possible to travel from London to Tokyo entirely by train.
A Japanese newspaper reported this week that the Russian government has approached Japan with a plan to link the two countries via railway.
The potential extension would take the current end of the line—Vladivostok in eastern Russia—up to Khabarovsk. The train would then cross the Strait of Tartary (potentially similar to how the Chunnel connects France and England) and end in Wakkanai, on the north of Japan’s Hokkaido island.
According to reports, the Kremlin is eager to develop Russia’s Far East, which lags behind the rest of the country economically. Japan is also interested in the extension as a way of increasing tourism to the country. They have set a goal to double the amount of tourists visiting the country by the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
However, the plan may never get off the ground because of a long-standing argument over the Kuril Islands. Both nations claim the four islands as their own and the territorial issue remains the reason the two countries never signed a peace treaty after World War II.
Vladimir Putin is scheduled to visit Japan in December. It is likely that the railroad extension will play a major part in government talks then.
There are currently several different options to travel by train from London to Moscow. The easiest involves taking the three-hour Eurostar from London’s St. Pancras station to Paris’s Gare du Nord. In Paris, it’s necessary to transfer to Gare de l’Est to board the Paris—Moscow Express, a 24-hour journey.
The Trans-Siberian Railway is celebrating its 100th birthday this year. The route is a 5,772-mile journey that connects Moscow to the Pacific Coast. The journey takes 167 hours and makes 120 stops.
A high speed bullet train from Hokkaido to Tokyo opened earlier this year. That journey takes about four hours. The entire (theoretical) journey from London to Tokyo via train would take well over a week to complete. Flights are about 11.5 hours long. But for those who prefer the journey over the destination, cross-continental train travel could be something to look forward to.