Talk:Russian Railways

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"Soviet Railways" should be covered by "Russian Railways" ?[edit]

I think the answer is yes since the Soviet Railways were a single railroad system in the USSR, using uniform operating rules and the same rolling stock. The Soviet railroad plant was originally inherited from the Russian railways and after the demise of the USSR, most of it was turned over to the Russian Railways.

This doesn't mean that there should not be any separate articles for the railways of the now independent non-Russian republics of the former USSR (such as the Ukraine). If such articles are significant, the parts of them that cover the Soviet period can be cited by this (Russian Railways) article (or even transcluded into this article). Or conversely: The articles on the non-Russian republic railways can cite/transclude appropriate parts of this article.

If you agree (or fail to object) I'll keep the opening statement [someone else later removed it] I wrote about this article including Soviet Railways. If no objections, I'll also put redirects from Soviet Railways/Railroads to this article. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:56, 22 February 2010 (UTC)

It's all quite reasonable; the history of modern Russian (or Ukrainian, or Estonian) railways certainly dates to the Soviet and Czarist systems, and thus those periods certainly can be covered here as well. However, since both the Czarist and Soviet periods were quite long and eventful, it might make sense to have (eventually) separate articles on Railways in the Russian Empire and Soviet Railways, to which the articles on Russian Railways (and those of other countries involved) could refer to from their "history" sections. Meanwhile, of course, Ukraine- or Estonia-specific material on the Czarist or Soviet period can be covered in the history sections of the articles for those countries as well. Vmenkov (talk) 14:07, 30 March 2010 (UTC)
There must be two different articles for Soviet and RF railways. The reason is simple: they are extremely different in strategies and tasks. USSR' railways were railways of a military empire in need of MILITARY logistical networks whereever possible; Russian Railways are oriented on CIVIL COMMERCIAL PROFIT. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:38, 9 August 2010 (UTC)
Disagree. Soviet railways need their own article. They were administered completely differently, organized differently, and named differently. That the current operation uses the former rolling stock has no bearing, and the miscellany makes the current article a mess. -LlywelynII (talk) 07:11, 24 September 2010 (UTC)
Fun fact: The Russian article in no way conflates the two and has several articles on the Narkomput and [Soviet] Ministry of Railways that can be translated and brought over. -LlywelynII (talk) 07:22, 24 September 2010 (UTC)


Well, that's 3 for and 1 against. Others?

This page should solely or chiefly consist of the current Russian railroad and its administration.

Most of the historical narrative should go to History of rail transport in Russia (per the format of the existing series of articles located at Category:History_of_rail_transport_by_country). History of rail transport in the Soviet Union is certainly deserving of separate treatment but would require some effort to avoid duplication. (Probably the HortiR section should only deal with the construction of rail within Soviet Russia and the main discussion during that period (comparisons with the US, eg) should be restricted to the HortitSU page.)

Separate articles should detail the separate administrations: my thoughts for titles would be Ministry of Railways (Imperial Russia) (pre-revolutionary administration; Russian article), People's Commissariat of Railways (revolutionary period to 1946; Russian article), and Ministry of Railways (Soviet Union) (1946 to formation of RR; Russian article) with general catch-alls or redirects placed at Imperial Russian railroads/ways and Soviet railroads/ways. Thoughts? -LlywelynII (talk) 08:07, 24 September 2010 (UTC)

Sounds like a good plan to me. I'd favour a split too; the current article is unwieldy. The modern RZD is a big complex network that could easily fill an article by itself; apart from that, there's a lot of history... (though I feel that a separate article of each phase of its history might be a step too far). I'll look at some options in the next couple of days; if nobody else minds then I think a split is the way forward. bobrayner (talk) 15:15, 1 October 2010 (UTC)

Don't Split[edit]

I don't think there should be a split as it would require too much duplication. A lot of innovations were made during the Soviet period such as railroad colleges, couplers with automatic lock set, air brakes that are fully controllable (unlike the uncontrollable US air brake from the 19th century) and a unified signal system including automatic cab signaling on all major lines. All these major changes are still in use and would need to be re-explained in any article on Russian Federation railways. Electrification projects started during the Soviet period were continued by the Russian Federation.

As for freight traffic, just covering the growth during the Soviet period is not enough. One needs to know about the decline in the Russian Federation period (and the first signs of decline near the end of the Soviet period). It's part of the same story.

After the demise of the Soviet Union, the railroads continued to be government owned so there is continuity. The fact that the Russian Wikipedia has a separate article for Soviet Railways doesn't mean that we should make the same mistake. The fact that their article on the USA seems to place the blame for the cold war on us doesn't mean that we should do the same, or that we should retaliate and call the Soviet Union a "military empire" as someone has done in this discussion. The Soviets and some Russians today label the US with about the same terms. (talk) 03:54, 3 October 2010 (UTC)

Tsarist bond[edit]

It was financed through the issue of vast quantities of Railway bonds, carrying a Russian governement guarantee. These bonds were then sold to French private investors under immense pressure from both the French and Russian governements, French banks (in those years the major French banks derived up to 30% of their net profits from Russian affairs), and corrupt journalists who wrote up favourable reviews on Russian finances in the French press (see "The first globalization, lessons from the French", Suzanne Berger, Raphael Dorman, Helen Starbuck, Massachusetts Institute of Thechnology, and "Les Emprunts Russes, de la ruine au remboursement", Joel Freymond, ed. Journal des Finances, Paris). Thes bonds were illegally repudiated by the Bolsheviks in 1918, leading to the ruin of thousands of French households. In 1999 a French government survey counted 316000 holders of unpaid Tsarist bonds (including Russian Railway bonds).

The present day holders ([]) intend to pursue their claim by all legal means and in any jurisdiction they deem fit until full settlement.

This part is removed from the main article. It should be mention as a part of the article on Tsarist bonds not here. Fisenko 16:56, 7 August 2007 (UTC)


A major problem with Russian transportation statistics, tabulated by both the Soviet and Russian government, is that they exclude private transportation such as private automobiles and company trucks. During the first half of the Soviet period this wasn't a significant problem, since most travel was by public transportation and most trucks were government-owned. Russian transport statistics today show about 35% of public passenger transportation by railroad but if automobiles were included, it would be much smaller. Thus I removed the erroneous 35% figure from the Wiki article as well as the figure for rail's share of freight transportation.

I searched the internet, trying to find any estimates of passenger-kilometers in Russia by private auto and found nothing. What I did find were some citations to pass-km figures for non-Russian countries where it was implied that such percentages might happen in Russia in the future. Thus it looks like estimates for pass-km by auto in Russia don't exist. But I've attempted to roughly estimate this, although this is "research" and can't go into Wikipedia:

Look at persons per auto: almost 5 in Russia today (2010) which is the same as for the US in the l930's [1]. Now in the 1930's in the US there was little air travel and rails had about 10% of the pass-miles. [2] [3] [ICC-Graph][4]. See also [5]

So if the passenger situation in Russian today is similar to the US in the 1930's (the cars/person is about the same) then 10% of pass-miles would be by rail. But there are big differences. For one, Russia is a huge country so there is a lot of air travel which was nearly absent in the US in the 1930's. This tends to make rail's share less. But there are two other factors that tend to make it larger. One is that Russian roads are worse than that of the US in the 1930's (source, anecdotal reports on the Internet of Americans driving in Russia). Another is that per Russia by car and elsewhere that some corrupt policemen set up roadblocks to illegally extort tolls (bribes) from highway travelers, etc. If these tendencies in both directions cancel out, then the modal share by rail is about 10%, not 34%.


  1. ^ "Historical Statistic of the United States, Colonial Times to 1970", US Dept. of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, table Q 148-162 (includes Motor-Vehicle Registrations, 1900 to 1970)
  2. ^ "Transportation in America", Statistical Analysis of Transportation in the United States (18th edition), with historical compendium 1939-1999, by Rosalyn A. Wilson, pub. by Eno Transportation Foundation Inc., Washington DC, 2001. See table: Domestic Passenger-Miles by Mode, pp. 14-15
  3. ^ "Bus Facts". 1935. p.9: chart: "Passenger-miles in United States by Various Means of Transport" (1890-1935). The chart is by H. E. Hale & Co., consulting engineers, 32 Nassau St., N.Y. There appears to be some double counting in this chart since the passenger-miles shown for Pullman Cars were also reported by the ICC for the Steam Railroads as shown in [ICC-Graph]. See also Bus Facts, 1966 (34th. edition) p. 6 "Intercity Travel in the United States 1929-1965". Bus Facts was published by NAMBO = National Association of Motor Bus Operators
  4. ^ Graphical Supplement to Monthly Reports, Series 1937 no. 4. Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC), 1937. Chart: "Steam Railway Traffic in Relation to Population, Years 1890-1936"
  5. ^ "Passenger Transport in the United States 1920-1950" by Lewis C. Sorrell and Harry A. Wheeler. Railway Business Association, Chicago, 1944. p.3 Table No. 1 -Steam Railway Revenue Passenger Traffic of the United States, 1900-1940. (talk) 20:00, 16 February 2010 (UTC)

Should railroad structures be separate articles?[edit]

I once subscribed to Железнодорожный Транспорт in the 1980's but didn't have much time to read it. One article I noticed was about a bridge over the Volga river built in 1880. Claimed it was the longest bridge in the world then, but the White army blew it up and the Red army restored it. Should it be a separate encyclopedic article? They used innovative flotation methods to lift up the spans. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:27, 19 February 2010 (UTC)

Does Russia Railways observe daylight saving time? Need clarify.[edit]

Russia observes daylight saving time. Moscow is 3 hours ahead of GMT in winter and 4 hours ahead in summer. According to various sources on the web, Russia Railways use a single time zone, Moscow time, across the country. Does it mean Russian trains switch time zone twice a year every spring and autumn? How does the railway system do this during the daylight saving switch? Besides, for the international train K19 (China's code) / 019 (Russia's code) from Beijing to Moscow, since China does not observe daylight saving time, if Russia Railways does, does it mean the train spend one more hour in summer than in winter for the same trip from Beijing to Moscow? And it is weird, but according to the timetable at , train K19/019 leaves Manzhouli in China at 07:01 Beijing time, and arrive Zabaikalsk in Russia at 02:26 Moscow time, if it was in summer, the train would leave at 23:01 GMT and arrive at 22:26 GMT, how can a train arrives before its departure? How does daylight saving apply to Russian railway system, need clarify. Thanks! Python eggs (talk) 16:19, 12 March 2010 (UTC)


The 2 cities you mention are both border towns and it takes only 25 min. for the train to run between them since the two towns adjoin each other. I phoned the travel agency that you linked to and they didn't know the answer. They said to email them but I don't really expect a reply. In winter, when you cross over into Russia, you need to set your watch back 5 hours to get Moscow time. If Russia uses the same printed schedule in summer (for the Russian part of the trip), then the Chinese part of the schedule needs to advance all the times by 1 hour (including departure time from Beijing). I guess the way to solve this problem is to look up the schedules in Russian (or Chinese). This problem isn't going to happen with international trains going from Russia to the rest of Europe since they have daylight savings time like Russia. (talk) 04:23, 30 March 2010 (UTC)

Looked up the timetable in Russian and the same problem exists. But I noticed that the train stops for hours at both of these border cities: Total delay 11 hours. So if Russia and China are unwilling to change their schedules to reflect daylight savings time, a practical way to solve it is to just spend another hour stopped at the border. The train can arrive in Russia early and just wait longer so as to depart Baikalsk on schedule. This train seems like primarily a tourist train, running only once a week. Thus there isn't much harm done if it doesn't adhere to an erroneous and impossible schedule (in summertime).

The timetable I looked at shows this train covering the first 400 km. out of Peking in only 1.5 hours. How can this be ?? (talk) 06:11, 30 March 2010 (UTC)

another reply[edit]

1) Yes, Russian train schedules are published in accordance with the actual Moscow time (i.e., in summer the time specified is Moscow Daylight Savings time). Russian train stations would often have two clocks, one showing local time, the other Moscow time.

2) How does it work for the domestic trains on the day of DST switch? Russian news articles report that on the first day of DST, passenger trains will try to "catch up" with the time: that is, the systems' dispatchers will try to reduce the time passenger trains would otherwise waste waiting here and there for freight trains to pass. [ Пассажирские поезда после перехода на «летнее» время прибудут в пункты назначения по расписанию (After the switch to the DST, passenger trains will arrive to their destinations on schedule)] , Расписание поездов сохранится во время перехода на летнее время (train schedule will be maintained during the DST change) (The fact that it is possible to "speed up" many a train by an hour on this particular day means that the regular schedule is rather padded; on the other hand, such speeding-up of passenger trains probably will wreck havoc with the timing of freight trains on that day). In any event, I suspect that the things won't run as smoothly as promised, and many trains will arrive an hour late in the first morning of DST... In the fall, of course, it's all rather easier: some trains will just sit and wait somewhere for an hour, others will arrive to their destination an hour earlier.

3) I never went through Manzhouli/Zabaykalsk, but at the Polish-Belorussian border (at Brest), it takes a few hours of physical time from the moment the train arrives to the last Polish station and to the time it leaves the first Belorusian station. What happens is that once the train leaves Poland, it continues on standard-gauge tracks to Belarusian Brest; then, if you'd like you can leave and go to the city for a walk for a few hours, and then come back to the other side of the Brest station - that's where your train will return after it had its bogies changed. (Or you can stay on the train all the time) I've read that at Naushki on the Russia/Mongolia border it's much like that too, and I reckon that the border crossing and bogie change business at Manzhouli/Zabaykalsk would also take a few hours. Thus one can probably shorten this delay by 1 hour during the Russian DST season without too much trouble.

4) Checking the actual schedule for K-19 on (Beijing time):

#     Station                            day           arv           dep          km                    fare, soft berth
1       北京(Beijing)                     day 1   -----  23:00    0km                             0 
2       天津(Tianjin)                     day 2   00:32   00:38   137km                   74元  
3       唐山(Tangshan)            day 2   01:58   02:00   260km                   89元
4       山海关(Shanhaiguan)            day 2       03:55   04:01   438km                   119元      - so it is 5 hrs for the first 438 km
5       锦州(Jinzhou)             day 2   05:59   06:03   622km                           158元
6       沈阳(Shenyang)            day 2   08:35   08:55   864km                   209元
9       哈尔滨(Harbin)                  day 2      14:49   15:10   1413km                  310元
10      大庆(Daqing)                      day 2   16:49   16:57   1572km                  336元
13      海拉尔(Hailar)                     day 3   01:01   01:09   2162km                  426元
14      满洲里(Manzhouli)          day 3   03:05   -----      2348km               457元    -  it is 28 hrs for the 2348 km from Beijing to the border

And here what the Russian system has to say about the same train:

station     arv          stop_time dep      km    time_from_prev   day 
Pekin    ---            ----  22:56     0               0                                       (All in Beijing time so far)
Tianczin        00:26   00:11   00:37   400     1 hour 41 min.  1
Tanshan 01:54   00:02   01:56   550     1 hour 19 min.  1 
Shanheihuan     03:48   00:08   03:56   650     2 hour 0 min.   1 
Czinchzhou      05:54   00:05   05:59   750     2 hour 3 min.   1 
Chenjan 08:35   00:15   08:50   841     2 hour 51 min.  1
Harbin  14:49   00:21   15:10   1388    2 hour 56 min.  1
Dacin   16:47   00:08   16:55   1588    1 hour 45 min.  1   (almost same times as in tielu's schedule, so far)
Hailar  00:34   00:08   00:42   2188    2 hour 52 min.  2    (now, it claims a different time by 30 min... and diff dist by 26 km!)
Mandschuria     02:37   04:24   07:01   2323    6 hour 19 min.  2 
  --- so the train spends over  4hr an Manzhouli, and leaves at 07:01 Beijing time
Zabaikalsk      02:26   06:47   09:13   2335    2 hour 12 min.  2  
   -- it's Moscow time already. 02:26 MSK = 07:26 Bejing time, so the actual travel  between stop is only 25 min indeed
Borzia  12:04   00:23   12:27   2452    3 hour 14 min.  2
Moscow Iaroslavskaia    18:13                   8961    3 hour 38 min.  6

So if the Russian schedule is to be believed, the train first spends 4 hrs at Manzhouli (02:37 to 07:01 Beijing time), then 25 min going across the border, than another 7 hrs in Zabaikalsk (from 02:26 to 09:13 MSK, i.e. 07:26 to 14:13 Beijing time). With the total of almost 12 hrs spent at the two stations, they certainly can afford to shorten the wait time by one hour in the summer!

(The time in the last-but-one column in the Russian schedule is "departure time from this station minus departure time from the previous station". So the "2 h 12 min" number for Zabaikalks dep time minus MZL dep time, is, of course incorrect: it must have been computed by script which was not aware of the fact that the times in China are Beijing times, not MSK!)

5) The above schedule is for 27-03-2010 (i.e. 27 March - not sure if they mean arrival or departure date). How does it change during the DST? I tried the same page for 20-03-2010 and17-04-2010 in the URL (i.e., definitely before and after the DST switch), and surprisingly, it showed identical times for all stations on both sides of the border, i.e. the same

Mandschuria        02:37   04:24   07:01   2323    6 hour 19 min.  2
Zabaikalsk      02:26   06:47   09:13   2335    2 hour 12 min.  2

As Python Eggs has already noted above, it's physically impossible for the train to leave Manzhouli at 07:01 Beijing time and arrive to Zabaikalsk at 02:26 MSK DST (i.e., 06:26 Beijing time). So the schedule on is apparently not quite precise on this point: in reality the train may leave MZL at 06:01 Bejing time, or arrive to Zabaikalsk at 03:26 MSK DST... so the dwell time at one of the stations is actually shorter by one hour. Apparently whoever designed that site did not take into account the DST issue of the Chinese border; but since the wait time are so long anyway, it's not going to hurt anyone :-)

6) Now, what the hell they are doing with this train and its passengers during those 12 hrs (well, 11 and a half, excluding the 25 min ride between the stations), I can only guess... Neither the bogie change, nor the customs should take anywhere close to this, of course. -- Vmenkov (talk) 13:58, 30 March 2010 (UTC)

P.S. A Russian blogger wrote a detailed account of crossing the border with a Moscow-Beijing train at Zabaikalsk-Manzhouli: Пересечение границы и Маньчжурия. According to him, the scheduled stop at Zabaikalsk takes 6 hrs 43 min, followed by 25 min of scheduled travel from Zabaikalsk to Manzhouli (12 km), and 5 hrs 30 min long stop at Manzhouli. In total, it takes 12 hrs 48 min for the train to get through these two stations, which is quite a bit more than it takes to fly from MSK to PEK! As he explained, the actual bogie change procedure (done at Zabaikalsk) does not take much more than 2 hours; it also takes a bit of time to change the locomotive and the restaurant car. Most of the time, passengers are just waiting (on the train, in the stations' waiting rooms, or taking a walk around Zabaikalsk) - waiting for the Russian immigration and customs officers to go through the train, waiting for the train to leave the station, and so on. So yes, there is plenty of time for schedule padding here. In the 1980s, the entire time spent at the two stations together was "only" around 8 hours. -- Vmenkov (talk) 05:49, 21 January 2014 (UTC)

USSR hauled over half the world's rail freight: Dubious?[edit]

I'm the one that added the statement that for about 20 years the USSR hauled more freight ton-km than the rest of the world combined. Someone erroneously marked this as "dubious" and I guess suggested that this be discussed. There's nothing to discuss since there isn't much reason to doubt it. It's in the data from the UN Statistical yearbook (various years) as well as mentioned numerous times in the Soviet literature on railroads.

And it makes sense. The USSR used very little truck transport. Also, due to a big share of their natural resources being located in distant Siberia, rail hauls were long. And the USSR was outproducing the US in heavy commodities such as steel and cement. There was a lot of coal hauled too as well as petroleum and products. The rail traffic was so dense that there were railroad traffic jams which sometimes caused accidents by overworked (and sometimes drunk) train drivers falling asleep. (talk) 08:23, 31 March 2010 (UTC)

I wasn't the original editor but I'll second that it's highly dubious, should actually be sourced, and the sources should be checked to see if they relied on Soviet statistics which were highly dubious in and of themselves. -LlywelynII (talk) 07:14, 24 September 2010 (UTC)
Of course it's Soviet statistics. What is your source for them being "highly dubious". If this were so, at the time of the breakup of the Soviet Union (or even prior to this during the glasnost' era) one would expect people to step forward and report such to the new Russia and to the world.

When I took a class at UCLA in the mid-1960's on the Soviet Economy. The Soviet statistics were accepted at face value. I'm talking about statistics which are non-ambiguous like tons and ton-miles. For statistics which involve monetary values, they all depend on assigning prices which are more subjective and open to question (since prices in the USSR were government controlled).

There were some problem years when rail freight traffic substantially declined. If the statistics are falsified, why were these embarrassing results reported?

Also, the Soviet statistics on rail freight may be understated due to falsified low weights given on the paperwork by shippers to reduce their freight charges. This was the topic of an article in their Railroad Transport magazine around 1970. The USSR hadn't constructed many scales to weigh freight, since it was erroneously assumed that shippers would honestly declare the weight of their shipments. (talk) 05:06, 25 September 2010 (UTC)

Introduction Rewritten[edit]

Someone tagged this article as needing to have its introduction rewritten. I just rewrote it, keeping it mostly the same but adding a little about the modernization that happened during the Soviet era. I think that now this tag should be removed and effort spent on neglected economic topics such as profitability and passenger train subsidies (recently eliminated for commuter trains) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:37, 12 July 2010 (UTC)

Original Research vs. Pro-Soviet Bias[edit]

I'm accused of bias and I'm assuming it's pro-Soviet bias. There's a conflict between the two principles of not being biased (pro-Soviet) and no original research. The reason for this is easy to understand. There is a lot of quantitative data (such as very high volumes of traffic on Soviet Railways) which if cited is pro-Soviet by its very nature. The Soviet Union excelled in quantitative indicators like high volumes of production. What they lacked was good quality of products (and it's a very serious lack), but this wasn't quantified.

For the railroads, I think that to remove some bias one needs to add to the numerical figures the statement that Soviet railroad hardware was of rather poor quality and explain why. This claim is likely true, yet it wasn't stated in the USSR since it could be construed as a criminal offense to publish (it's anti-Soviet propaganda which was illegal). It probably wasn't printed in the US either since to my knowledge no one here objectively studied Soviet Railways (except I did a little but published almost nothing).

Instead, what did happen is that many articles were published in Russian railway magazines complaining about the quality of specific components of railway hardware and proposing the way to fix the problem. This was considered constructive criticism in the USSR and generally approved of by the authorities.

So it's a massive job of "original research" for someone to find and read over (in Russian) all these published articles and summarize them. This would be, by it's very nature, a subjective evaluation. Finding these articles will not be easy since the Soviet subject indexes were difficult to use even if you had access to them, and libraries in the US seemed to be missing them. What's needed is online access but libraries in the US don't seem to have this for Russia.

Other problems with Soviet Railways (and Russian Railways too) was a high accident rate) due mainly to human error. But I suspect that material like accident rates were kept secret. In many cases locomotive drivers were drunk or fell asleep on the job.

So what should be done? There is very little material on Soviet Railways available in English but a tremendous volume available in Russian. One possibility is to translate the Russian Wikipedia railroad articles if people there take the time to improve on them. Or perhaps they will come out with a good historical book on railways in general. They have books on specific routes like the TransSib and BAM. But they don't discuss issues like hardware quality, accident rates, etc., and topics like these need to be dealt with.

The college introductory textbook I have (for the Soviet Period) gives history short shrift and mostly covers the (then) current technology. College level railway education, Soviet (and the Russian Federation), was infinitely more developed than the US since the US had no such railway education. This statement would be construed as pro-Soviet even if one removed the "infinitely" word. But there's a question as to the quality of the education. The railroad textbooks that I've looked at are good at explaining railway technology but weak in scientific and engineering theory. A US college student at a good US university probably gets a much better education than a student at a Russian/Soviet railway university. But this can't be stated in Wikipedia since it's the result of original research (my reading over some of their textbooks). And it's also possibly flawed due to my lack of knowledge of such topics regarding how well the students learned the materials in their railroad textbooks and my ignorance of the non-railroad textbooks used in such colleges (there's a photo on a Russian website showing a railway college professor at the blackboard proving that matrix multiplication is associative). (talk) 05:46, 3 October 2010 (UTC)

Two years down the line, my comment: Pretty much any engineering degree in the USSR (and, hopefully, in Russia) would require taking a lot of basic math and physics courses during the first 2-3 years of study. This was more or less regardless of whether you majored in railway engineering, naval architecture, or computer engineering. Certainly they'd be taught the properties of matrix multiplication (including its associativity but non-commutativity) in freshman linear algebra. (I think the same is the case in most of continental Europe and in China.) Mechanics of materials - SoproMat - was traditionally viewed by many Russian students (throughout the spectrum of engineering specialties) as one of the hardest courses. The article on Petersburg State Transport University - one of the best-known railway engineering schools - is merely a stub, but its Russian interwiki is quite detailed, and mentions how many well-known scientists taught there. -- Vmenkov (talk) 05:24, 28 June 2012 (UTC)