Web developer Chris Gray came up with his idea for a global Underground map when he was visiting Australia.
What if you could board a train in Madras, India and travel to Boston without changing trains? One man has imagined the world as a giant London Underground map where people can travel freely between countries and traverse vast bodies of water from the comfort of their seat while vehicles speed through vast tunnels.
While his dream is currently ‘impossible’, engineers are constantly trying to develop new ways to connect countries.
These range from floating tunnels and pneumatic tubes to routes cutting through mountain ranges such as the Alps.
Chris Gray, 47, came up with his whimsical idea for the map when watching a cricket match in Australia.
The style of the ‘Eurocentric’ world Tube map is inspired by the work of Harry Beck, who was the technical draftsman who created the present London Underground map in 1931 ¿ also, initially in his spare time. This segment of the map shows how a person could hop on a train at Birmingham and travel to New York without any changes
‘I was sat in Melbourne after watching England lose another test and thought it would be great to nip over to England for Christmas and New Year and then go back to the sun, so I came up with the idea of a world Underground and started drawing it,’ he told MailOnline.
A web developer by trade, Mr Gray, who lives in Heckmondwike, West Yorkshire, described himself as ‘quite logical’ and decided to position ‘nodes’ or Tube stops at densely populated cities and worked out the connections from there.
He has also created maps showing an upside down version of his vision and of what a network of multinational companies connected by tube lines would look like, spending approximately 500 hours on his creations.
The style of the ‘Eurocentric’ world Tube map is inspired by the work of Harry Beck, who was the technical draftsman who created the present London Underground map in 1931 – also, initially in his spare time.
‘I was inspired by Beck’s model. Mine has a 1930s feel – I wanted to capture that,’ said Mr Gray, who also explained that he has always had a keen love of geography and is now selling his unusual maps online.
The ‘Tri-Continental’ line is red, like London’s Central Line on the map, while the grey line is the ‘U.S.’ and the black line the ‘Australasia Pan-Pacific’.
While the vision isn’t to be taken entirely seriously, bridge and tunnelling expert Robert Benaim, a fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said more countries could become connected by physical structures in the future – although underground tunnels might be ‘impossible’ in some places.
Although engineers completed the Channel Tunnel 20 years ago and the Bosphorus sub-sea tunnel in Turkey recently, Mr Benaim doesn’t believe the technology exists to build vast tunnels across the Atlantic.
‘One could tunnel marginally feasibly within continental shelves but there are extremely deep ocean chasms and tunnels would have to be very deep to avoid them,’ he told MailOnline.
A corporate world: Mr Gray has also created maps showing an upside down version of his vision and of what a network of multinational companies connected by tube lines would look like (pictured), spending approximately 500 hours on his creations
Pneumatic madness? Elon Musk’s ‘hyperloop’ transport system (illustrated) will see passengers travelling in a pneumatic tube if it is every built. It could enable people to travel at speeds of 760mph and a version of the futuristic design could play a part in a completely connected world transport network, according to an expert
Such a project would need an almost unlimited budget and time to create tunnels long enough to cross the Atlantic, he added.
Super high-speed vehicles would also need to be developed in order to make a trip beneath the ocean comparable to taking a flight.
And then there are tectonic plates and enormous underwater mountain ranges to consider.
Mr Benaim said: ‘The idea of tunnelling under the ocean is probably not feasible because of the depth of abysses and tectonic plate boundaries. I suppose you could go round Greenland and the Arctic [to connect Europe with America].
His suggested solution to the Atlantic problem is quite simple, however.
‘Why should we imagine this map and network as an underground?’ he said.
He explained that a pneumatic tube similar to the grand plans for a 760mph (1,223km/h) ‘hyperloop’ in California might be more feasible.
He believes that a global connected transport system will one day use a number of technologies including long-distance tunnels and over ground high-speed networks.
Engineers have made incredible progress in tunnelling but they can only manage to construct between 65ft and 98ft (20 and 30 metres) of tunnel per day using the latest techniques, which often involve spraying concrete.
If an underground tunnel could be built in a straight line across the Atlantic Ocean from London to New York – 459miles (5,567km) – at the rate of building 98ft (30 metres) a day, it would take around 508 years to construct.
The pressures on such tunnels under miles of water would be ‘enormous’ and would cave in if built with current technology.
Tiny submarines can currently dive around two miles beneath the waves and maintain normal air pressure inside for passengers, but a large tunnel with train inside is quite a different challenge. Mr Benaim said it is ‘impossible’ at the moment.
‘But the idea of connecting countries is good and fun. It doesn’t have to be underground,’ he said.
The tunnelling expert suggested that floating tunnels could one day be built to cross oceans – providing there’s enough time and an enormous budget.
‘You would need to find a way of avoiding boats…but at 65ft to 98ft (20 to 30 metres) beneath the water’s surface, staying clear from shipping lanes, they could be made buoyancy neutral and tethered to the sea floor, could withstand long distances,’ he said.
‘If I were connecting the world in the future I would use a mixture of different techniques – tunnel under mountains, use a hyperloop and floating tunnels under the sea.
‘The idea of connectivity within continents isn’t outrageous. There could be all sorts of solutions,’ he said.
Via Daily Mail