Already the longest rail line on the globe, the ambitious new scheme by Japanese investors would make it possible to travel from London to Tokyo by train for the first time ever. The plan would extend the Trans-Siberian line to the Russian island of Sakhalin and on to the Japanese island of Hokkaido.
The route would bypass Vladivostok, which is currently the last stop on the iconic route and cross the Strait of Tartary by bridge or underwater tunnel. The line would cross into Japan through a tunnel to the island of Hokkaido, through La Perouse Strait, or Soya Strait.
If the plans go ahead, it would be possible to travel from Tokyo to London entirely by train – a distance of some 6000 miles. Passengers could travel from Tokyo to Hokkaido via bullet train, then take the Trans-Siberian railway to Moscow, where they could take the Moscow-Paris express to France before catching the Eurostar from Paris to London. The journey would take more than a week.
According to the Sankei Shimbun newspaper in Japan, major companies in Tokyo are looking at this project in conjunction with the Japanese government. They have even planned for the supplying of trains, tracks and signalling systems. There are two major stumbling blocks in their way – the crossings of seven and 42 kilometres, respectively. However, they are hoping the plan will revive commercial activity between Russia and Japan, while boosting tourism for both sides as well.