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I answered another question with the possibility of a world-girdling railroad. Another poster on that thread did not feel that was viable for Earth. I've been pinging around on the Internet ... I find plenty of articles about underwater evacuated tunnels for trams-ocean travel, but I'm curious about surface level trains.

Does the tech exist today to build a surface railway from, say, New York to London, money/time being unlimited? If not, does our science suggest one could be built in the future? In either case, given how expensive such a bridge would likely be, would the bridge, assuming regular maintenance, last long enough to be worth building? Or is ocean just too open and too volatile?

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This question asks for hard science. All answers to this question should be backed up by equations, empirical evidence, scientific papers, other citations, etc. Answers that do not satisfy this requirement might be removed. See the tag description for more information.

marked as duplicate by o.m., Frostfyre, Hohmannfan, Aify, Mołot Oct 18 '16 at 5:57

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    $\begingroup$ That surface train would be a special case of a transatlantic bridge. No real difference if there is a track on top or a roadway. $\endgroup$ – o.m. Oct 18 '16 at 4:29
  • $\begingroup$ Surface railroad from New York to London? Yes, easy. All you need is a bridge over the Bering strait (82 km, max depth 50 meters) and another over the Dover Strait (33 km, max depth 62 meters). Both are obviously feasible. Total distance about 16,000 km, or 20,500 km if you want to re-use the Trans-Siberian and other pre-existing railroads. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Apr 17 at 22:10
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexP Thank you for your off topic reply. Well done, smart alec, you found a loophole in the hypothetical. $\endgroup$ – SRM Apr 18 at 7:00
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Possible, but not practical. All you need is something to support the rails which you can do with ocean platforms, but the engineering time and money extras aren't worth for a rail that in the end isn't very secure, because it would suffer more risk from the same things that make platforms dangerous... but interestingly, such a thing would make those platforms less dangerous by linking them together.

The cost of material to build underwater is just cheaper and safer overall... and probably more useful to be able to service trans-ocean cables. But we could do it and more. If we were going to do that we'd build orbital rings which is again safer and while expensive to get set up at first, is cheaper in the long run than our current system of transportation. The only reason we haven't done it yet is cuz it's expensive and it requires a pretty extensive global treaty to work and be safe from being blown up or messed with. Also, another benefit of a trans-ocean underwater rail is that it would open up the land down there for easier access and allow us to practice dome cities in a relatively safe environment while exploring the depths.

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This question asks for hard science. All answers to this question should be backed up by equations, empirical evidence, scientific papers, other citations, etc. Answers that do not satisfy this requirement might be removed. See the tag description for more information.

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I think the main reason we do not make bridges between continents is economics.

If I have enough steel to make bridge between New-York and England, I can build a lot of ships from it instead, and this ships can offer better transfer rate, that even 4 line rail road.

To make the bridges viable, we need something in the water, that prevents us from using ships. Maybe the ocean is very rich in lifeforms which grow on the ship’s hull. So, even at first journey ship gets a lot of additional weight and can sink. Maybe there are a lot of islands and shallow waters in ocean, and building bridges is easier.

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This question asks for hard science. All answers to this question should be backed up by equations, empirical evidence, scientific papers, other citations, etc. Answers that do not satisfy this requirement might be removed. See the tag description for more information.

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