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1 Apr, 2008 05:12

Billionaire denies dreaming of a transcontinental tunnel

Billionaire denies dreaming of a transcontinental tunnel

Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich has dismissed claims he’s planning to build a tunnel linking Russia’s Chukotka Region with Alaska in the United States.

It follows Russia Today’s report last week that the owner of Chelsea Football Club bought a giant drill to construct a railway tunnel under the Bering Strait.
German media sources now say the $160m drill-bit, bought recently by Abramovich, could be used to improve the infrastructure around the Black Sea resort of Sochi – which is hosting the Winter Olympics in 2014. 

The German-made drill is 19 metres wide, making it the biggest in the world.  It dwarfs its nearest rival, a 15 metre Chinese drill being used for a Yangtze tunnel.

A 55-mile wide tunnel linking Russia and the U.S. was first mooted by the Tsars and then in the 1990s, but both times it was dumped because of high costs.

It was reported recently that the Kremlin backed the idea of transcontinental rail link, as it would open up lucrative freight routes from Europe and allow Russian gas to be easily exported.

Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper said that President Putin had already had secret talks about the project with Washington.

The drill will take German firm Herrenknecht AG two years to build.