Trans-Siberian Railway

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Trans-Siberian Railway
Prokudin-Gorskii-25.jpg
Bridge over the Kama River, near Perm in 1912
Map Trans-Siberian railway.png
Trans-Siberian line in red; Baikal–Amur Mainline in green
Line length 9,289 km (5,772 mi)
Track gauge 1,520 mm (4 ft 11 2732 in) Russian gauge
0 km 
0 mi 
Yaroslavsky Terminal, Moscow
59 km 
37 mi 
Khotkovo
73 km 
45 mi 
Sergiyev Posad
Moscow OblastVladimir Oblast
112 km 
70 mi 
Alexandrov
Balakirevo
Vladimir OblastYaroslavl Oblast
145 km 
90 mi 
Berendeevo
Ryazantsevo
Silnitsi
200 km 
124 mi 
Petrovskoye
224 km 
139 mi 
Rostov Yaroslavski
Semibratovo
Kozmodemyansk
284 km 
176 mi 
Yaroslavl
289 km 
180 mi 
Volga River
356 km 
221 mi 
Danilov
to Vologda and Arkhangelsk
Sot
394 km 
245 mi 
Lyubim
Seksha
Yaroslavl OblastKostroma Oblast
Brodni
Korega
450 km 
280 mi 
Bui
Rossolovo
Khramki
501 km 
311 mi 
Galich
Krasilnikovo
Loparevo
Monakovo
Antrolovo
Nikkolo-Ugol
Nikolo-Poloma
Nomzha
Yelenskiy
Neva
Nelsha
Brantovka
Petrushino
Kostrikha
651 km 
405 mi 
Manturovo
Vocherovo
Shekshema
Varakinskiy
Vetluga River
698 km 
434 mi 
Sharya
Zeblyaki
Yakshanga
Burunduchikha
Kostroma OblastKirov Oblast
Suprotivniy
Metil
Gostovskaya
Shabalino
818 km 
508 mi 
Svetcha
Yuma
Kapidantsi
Atsvezh
Darovitsa
to Nizhni Novgorod & Moscow
870 km 
541 mi 
Kotelnich
Vyatka River
Bistryagi
Orichi
Strizhi
Lyangasovo
Chukhlominskiy
957 km 
595 mi 
Kirov
975 km 
606 mi 
Pozdino
Poloy
995 km 
618 mi 
Bum-Kombinat
Prosnitsa
Ardashi
Rekmino
1052 km 
654 mi 
Zuevka
Kosa
Falenki
1127 km 
700 mi 
Yar
Kirov OblastUdmurtia
Kozmil
1165 km 
724 mi 
Glazov
1194 km 
742 mi 
Balyezino
Pibanshur
1221 km 
759 mi 
Cheptsa River
1223 km 
760 mi 
Chepsta
Kez
Kabalud
Kuzma
UdmurtiaPerm Krai
Borodulino
Subbotniki
1310 km 
814 mi 
Vereshchagino
Zyukay
1340 km 
833 mi 
Mendeleevo
Grigorevskaya
1387 km 
862 mi 
Chaikovskaya
Shabunichi
1410 km 
876 mi 
Overyata
Kurya
1432 km 
890 mi 
Kama River
1436 km 
892 mi 
Perm
1452 km 
902 mi 
Ferma
Mulyanka
Yug
Yergach
1534 km 
953 mi 
Kungur
Kishert
Shumkovo
Tulumbasi
Kordon
Perm KraiSverdlovsk Oblast
Shamary
1672 km 
1039 mi 
Shalya
Sarga
Sabik
1729 km 
1074 mi 
Kuzino
1748 km 
1086 mi 
Krylosovo
1770 km 
1100 mi 
Pervouralsk
1777 km 
1104 mi 
EuropeAsia
Iset River
1816 km 
1128 mi 
Yekaterinburg
Shartash
Putevka
Kosolino
Gagarskiy
Bazhenovo
Gryaznovskaya
1912 km 
1188 mi 
Bogdanovich
Pishminskaya
Yelansky
1955 km 
1215 mi 
Kamyshlov
Aksarikha
Oshchepkovo
Proselok
2033 km 
1263 mi 
Talitsa
2064 km 
1283 mi 
Yushala
Bahkmetskoye
Tugulym
Karmak
Sverdlovsk OblastTyumen Oblast
2144 km 
1332 mi 
Tyumen
Voynovka
Ozero Andreyevskoya
Vinzili
Bogdaninskaya
2222 km 
1381 mi 
Yalutorovsk
Tobol River
Zavodoukovsk
Novaya Zaimka
Vagay
Omutinskaya
Lamyenskaya
Golishmanovo
Karasulskaya
2431 km 
1511 mi 
Ishim
Ishim River
Maslyanskaya
Novo Andreyevskiy
Tyumen OblastOmsk Oblast
Mangut
2565 km 
1594 mi 
Nazyvayevsk
Dragunskaya
Lyubinskaya
2706 km 
1681 mi 
Irtysh River
2712 km 
1685 mi 
Omsk
Kormilovka
2760 km 
1715 mi 
Kalachinsk
Ivanovka
Omsk OblastNovosibirsk Oblast
Karatkansk
2885 km 
1793 mi 
Tatarsk
Kabakly
Chany
Ozero Karachinskoye
Koshkul
Tebisskaya
3040 km 
1889 mi 
Barabinsk
Kozhurla
Ubinskaya
Kargat
Kokoshino
3212 km 
1996 mi 
Chulym
Duplenskaya
Lesnaya Polyana
Chik
3322 km 
2064 mi 
Ob
3332 km 
2070 mi 
Ob River
3335 km 
2072 mi 
Novosibirsk
Mochische
Oyash
Chebula
3463 km 
2152 mi 
Bolotnaya
Novosibirsk OblastKemerovo Oblast
3491 km 
2169 mi 
Yurga
Tom River
Talmenka
Yashkino
Kholkino
branch to Tomsk
3570 km 
2218 mi 
Tayga
Likhtach
3602 km 
2238 mi 
Anzhero-Sudzhensk
Yaya
Izhmorsk
Berikulsk
Antibesskiy
3715 km 
2308 mi 
Mariinsk
Suslovo
Tyazhin
Itat
Kemerovo OblastKrasnoyarsk Krai
3849 km 
2392 mi 
Bogotol
Kritovo
Chulym River
3917 km 
2434 mi 
Achinsk
3960 km 
2461 mi 
Chernorechsk
Kozulka
Zeledeyevo
Kacha
Minino
4098 km 
2546 mi 
Krasnoyarsk
4101 km 
2548 mi 
Yenisei River
Zlobino
Zikovo
Sorokino
Kamarchaga
Balay
4227 km 
2627 mi 
Uyar
4262 km 
2648 mi 
Zaozyornaya
Kamala
Solyanka
Boshnyakovo
4343 km 
2699 mi 
Kansk-Yeniseiski
4375 km 
2718 mi 
Ilanskaya
Ingashiskaya
Tinskaya
Reshoti
Klyuchi
Krasnoyarsk KraiIrkutsk Oblast
Yurti
Biryusinsk
4516 km 
2806 mi 
Taishet
4520 km 
2809 mi 
Baikal Amur Mainline
4555 km 
2830 mi 
Razgon
Alzamay
4631 km 
2878 mi 
Kamyshet
Uk
4680 km 
2908 mi 
Nizhneudinsk
Khingoy
Khudoyelanskaya
Sheberta
Utay
4794 km 
2979 mi 
Tulun
Shuba
Tulyushka
4875 km 
3029 mi 
Kuytun
Kharik
Kimeltey
4940 km 
3070 mi 
Zima
Tiret
Zalari
Irkutsk OblastUst-Ordynsky
Golovinskaya
5027 km 
3124 mi 
Kutulik
Zabituy
Ust-OrdynskyIrkutsk Oblast
5061 km 
3145 mi 
Cheremkhovo
5087 km 
3161 mi 
Polovina
Belaya
5124 km 
3184 mi 
Usolye-Sibirskoye
5133 km 
3189 mi 
Telma
Kitoy
5160 km 
3206 mi 
Angarsk
5170 km 
3212 mi 
Meget
5178 km 
3217 mi 
Irkutsk-Sort
5185 km 
3222 mi 
Irkutsk
Kaya
Goncharovo
B. Lug
Podkamennaya
Kultuk
5312 km 
3301 mi 
Slyudyanka
Utulik
5358 km 
3329 mi 
Baykalsk
Murino
Irkutsk OblastBuryatia
5390 km 
3349 mi 
Vydrino
5426 km 
3372 mi 
Tankhoi
Pereyemnaya
5477 km 
3403 mi 
Mysovaya
5530 km 
3436 mi 
Posolskaya
Timlyuy
5562 km 
3456 mi 
Selenginsk
Talovka
Tataurovo
Selenge River
5642 km 
3506 mi 
Ulan Ude
5655 km 
3514 mi 
Trans-Mongolian Railway
Talitsi
5675 km 
3526 mi 
Onokhoy
Zaigraevo
Chelutay
Ilka
5734 km 
3563 mi 
Novoilinski
Kizma
BuryatiaZabaykalsky Krai
5784 km 
3594 mi 
Petrovsk-Zabaykalsky
Balyaga
Tarbagatai
Novo-Pavlovka
Tolbaga
Khokhotay
5884 km 
3656 mi 
Bada
Zhipkhegen
5932 km 
3686 mi 
Khilok
Khushenga
Kharagun
6053 km 
3761 mi 
Mogzon
Khilok River
6093 km 
3786 mi 
Sokhondo
6125 km 
3806 mi 
Yablonovaya
Lesnoy
Ingoda
Chernovskaya
Kadala
6199 km 
3852 mi 
Chita
Peschanka
Atamanovka
Novaya
Makkaveyevo
6265 km 
3893 mi 
Darasun
6293 km 
3910 mi 
Karaymskaya
6312 km 
3922 mi 
Trans-Manchurian Railway
Urulga
Zubarevo
Razmakhnino
Solntsevaya
6417 km 
3987 mi 
Onon
6446 km 
4005 mi 
Shilka-Pass.
Kholbon
6496 km 
4036 mi 
Priiskavaya
Nerchinsk
6532 km 
4059 mi 
Kuenga
branch to Sretensk
6593 km 
4097 mi 
Chernyshevsky-Zabaikalski
6629 km 
4119 mi 
Bushuley
Khoktonga
6670 km 
4145 mi 
Zilovo
Ulyakan
Uryum
Sbega
6789 km 
4218 mi 
Ksenevskaya
Kislyy Klug
Arteushka
Razdolnoye
6906 km 
4291 mi 
Mogocha
Taptugari
Semiozernyy
7010 km 
4356 mi 
Amazar
Zhanna
7075 km 
4396 mi 
Zabaykalsky KraiAmur Oblast
7119 km 
4424 mi 
Yerofei Pavlovich
7211 km 
4481 mi 
Urusha
7266 km 
4515 mi 
Takhtamigda
7273 km 
4519 mi 
Baikal Amur Mainline
7306 km 
4540 mi 
Skovorodino
7323 km 
4550 mi 
Bolshoy Never
Taladan
Gonzha
7501 km 
4661 mi 
Magdagachi
Sulus
Tigda
7602 km 
4724 mi 
Ushumun
Sivaki
Mukhinskaya
Bereya
7723 km 
4799 mi 
Shimanovskaya
7772 km 
4829 mi 
Ledyanaya
Buzuli
7815 km 
4856 mi 
Svobodny
Zeya River
M. Chesnokovskaya
Serishevo
7873 km 
4892 mi 
Belogorsk
7875 km 
4893 mi 
to Blagoveshchensk
Vozhayevka
Pozdeyevka
Yekaterinoslavka
7992 km 
4966 mi 
Zavitaya
8037 km 
4994 mi 
Bureya
Domikan
8088 km 
5026 mi 
Arkhara
Rachi
Kundur-Khabarovskiy
AmurJewish Autonomous Oblast
8198 km 
5094 mi 
Obluchye
Kimkan
8234 km 
5116 mi 
Izvestkovaya
Birakan
Teploye Ozero
Londoko
8306 km 
5161 mi 
Bira
8351 km 
5189 mi 
Birobidzhan
In
8480 km 
5269 mi 
Volochayevka
Dezhnevka
Nikolayevka
8512 km 
5289 mi 
Priamurskaya
8515 km 
5291 mi 
Amur RiverJ.A. OblastKhabarovsk Krai
8523 km 
5296 mi 
Khabarovsk
Korfovskaya
8598 km 
5343 mi 
Verino
8621 km 
5357 mi 
Khor
Dormidontovka
8642 km 
5370 mi 
Vyazemskaya
Rozengartovka
8756 km 
5441 mi 
Bikin
Khabarovsk KraiPrimorsky Krai
Zvenevoi
Burlit-Volochayevskiy
Luchegorsk
Guberovo
8890 km 
5524 mi 
Dalnerechensk
8900 km 
5530 mi 
Lazo
Ruzhino
Lesozavodsk
Shmakovka
Sviyagino
9050 km 
5623 mi 
Spassk-Dalny
Muchnaya
9109 km 
5660 mi 
Sibirtsevo
Ipplolitovka
Ozernaya Pad
Dubininskiy
9177 km 
5702 mi 
Ussuriysk
Varanovskiy
Nadezdinskaya
to Nakhodka
9255 km 
5751 mi 
Uglovaya
9289 km 
5772 mi 
Vladivostok

The Trans-Siberian Railway (TSR, Russian: Транссиби́рская магистра́ль, tr. Transsibirskaya Magistral; IPA: [trənsʲsʲɪˈbʲirskəjə məgʲɪˈstralʲ]) is a network of railways connecting Moscow with the Russian Far East and the Sea of Japan.[1] With a length of 9,289 km (5,772 mi),[2] it is the longest railway line in the world. There are connecting branch lines into Mongolia, China and North Korea. It has connected Moscow with Vladivostok since 1916, and is still being expanded.

It was built from 1891 to 1916 under the supervision of Russian government ministers who were personally appointed by Tsar Alexander III and by his son, Tsar Nicholas II. Even before it had been completed, it attracted travellers who wrote of their adventures.[3]

Route description[edit]

The Trans-Siberian Railway is often associated with the main transcontinental Russian line that connects hundreds of large and small cities of the European and Asian parts of Russia. At 9,289 kilometres (5,753 miles),[4] spanning a record seven time zones[dated info] and taking eight days to complete the journey, it is the third-longest single continuous service in the world, after the Moscow–Pyongyang 10,267 kilometres (6,380 mi)[5] and the Kiev–Vladivostok 11,085 kilometres (6,888 mi)[6] services, both of which also follow the Trans-Siberian for much of their routes.

The main route of the Trans-Siberian Railway begins in Moscow at Yaroslavsky Vokzal, runs through Yaroslavl, Chelyabinsk, Omsk, Novosibirsk, Irkutsk, Ulan-Ude, Chita and Khabarovsk to Vladivostok via southern Siberia.

A second primary route is the Trans-Manchurian, which coincides with the Trans-Siberian east of Chita as far as Tarskaya (a stop 12 km (7 mi) east of Karymskoye, in Chita Oblast), about 1,000 km (621 mi) east of Lake Baikal. From Tarskaya the Trans-Manchurian heads southeast, via Harbin and Mudanjiang in China's Northeastern Provinces (from where a connection to Beijing is used by one of the Moscow–Beijing trains), joining with the main route in Ussuriysk just north of Vladivostok. This is the shortest and the oldest railway route to Vladivostok. While there are currently no traverse passenger services (enter China from one side and then exit China and return to Russia on the other side) on this branch, it is still used by several international passenger services between Russia and China.

The third primary route is the Trans-Mongolian Railway, which coincides with the Trans-Siberian as far as Ulan-Ude on Lake Baikal's eastern shore. From Ulan-Ude the Trans-Mongolian heads south to Ulaan-Baatar before making its way southeast to Beijing.

In 1991, a fourth route running further to the north was finally completed, after more than five decades of sporadic work. Known as the Baikal Amur Mainline (BAM), this recent extension departs from the Trans-Siberian line at Taishet several hundred miles west of Lake Baikal and passes the lake at its northernmost extremity. It crosses the Amur River at Komsomolsk-na-Amure (north of Khabarovsk), and reaches the Tatar Strait of the Sea of Japan at Sovetskaya Gavan.

On 13 October 2011 a train from Khasan made its inaugural run to Rajin in North Korea.[7]

History[edit]

Demand and design[edit]

In the late 19th century, the development of Siberia was hampered by poor transport links within the region, as well as with the rest of the country. Aside from the Great Siberian Route, good roads suitable for wheeled transport were rare. For about five months of the year, rivers were the main means of transport. During the cold half of the year, cargo and passengers travelled by horse-drawn sledges over the winter roads, many of which were the same rivers, but ice-covered.

The first steamboat on the River Ob, Nikita Myasnikov's Osnova, was launched in 1844. But early beginnings were difficult, and it was not until 1857 that steamboat shipping started developing on the Ob system in a serious way. Steamboats started operating on the Yenisei in 1863, on the Lena and Amur in the 1870s.

While the comparative flatness of Western Siberia was at least fairly well served by the gigantic ObIrtyshTobolChulym river system, the mighty rivers of Eastern Siberia—the Yenisei, the upper course of the Angara River (the Angara below Bratsk was not easily navigable because of the rapids), and the Lena — were mostly navigable only in the north-south direction. An attempt to partially remedy the situation by building the Ob-Yenisei Canal was not particularly successful. Only a railway could be a real solution to the region's transport problems.

The first railway projects in Siberia emerged after the completion of the Moscow-Saint Petersburg Railway in 1851.[8] One of the first was the IrkutskChita project, proposed by the American entrepreneur Perry Collins and supported by Transport Minister Constantine Possiet with a view toward connecting Moscow to the Amur River, and consequently, to the Pacific Ocean. Siberia's governor, Nikolay Muravyov-Amursky, was anxious to advance the colonisation of the Russian Far East, but his plans could not materialise as long as the colonists had to import grain and other food from China and Korea.[9] It was on Muravyov's initiative that surveys for a railway in the Khabarovsk region were conducted.

Before 1880, the central government had virtually ignored these projects, because of the weakness of Siberian enterprises, a clumsy bureaucracy, and fear of financial risk. By 1880, there were a large number of rejected and upcoming applications for permission to construct railways to connect Siberia with the Pacific, but not Eastern Russia. This worried the government and made connecting Siberia with Central Russia a pressing concern. The design process lasted 10 years. Along with the route actually constructed, alternative projects were proposed:

The line was divided into seven sections, on all or most of which work proceeded simultaneously, using the labour of 62,000 men. The total cost was estimated at £35 million sterling; the first section (Chelyabinsk to the River Ob) was finished at a cost £900,000 less than the estimate.[10] Railwaymen fought against suggestions to save funds, for example, by installing ferryboats instead of bridges over the rivers until traffic increased. The designers insisted and secured the decision to construct an uninterrupted railway.

Unlike the rejected private projects that intended to connect the existing cities demanding transport, the Trans-Siberian did not have such a priority. Thus, to save money and avoid clashes with land owners, it was decided to lay the railway outside the existing cities. Tomsk was the largest city, and the most unfortunate, because the swampy banks of the Ob River near it were considered inappropriate for a bridge. The railway was laid 70 km (43 mi) to the south (instead crossing the Ob at Novonikolaevsk, later renamed Novosibirsk); just a dead-end branch line connected with Tomsk, depriving the city of the prospective transit railway traffic and trade.

Construction[edit]

In March 1890, the future Tsar Nicholas II personally inaugurated the construction of the Far East segment of the Trans-Siberian Railway during his stop at Vladivostok, after visiting Japan at the end of his journey around the world. Nicholas II made notes in his diary about his anticipation of travelling in the comfort of "the tsar's train" across the unspoiled wilderness of Siberia. The tsar's train was designed and built in St. Petersburg to serve as the main mobile office of the tsar and his staff for travelling across Russia.

Clearing on the right-of-way of the Eastern Siberian Railway, 1895
Construction work being performed by convicts on the Eastern Siberian Railway near Khabarovsk, 1895

On 9 March 1891, the Russian government issued an imperial rescript in which it announced its intention to construct a railway across Siberia.[11] Tsar Nicholas II inaugurated the construction of the railway in Vladivostok on 19 May that year.[12] The construction of the Trans-Siberian Railway was overseen by Sergei Witte, who was then finance minister.

Similar to the First Transcontinental Railroad in the US, Russian engineers started construction at both ends and worked towards the centre. From Vladivostok the railway was laid north along the right bank of the Ussuri River to Khabarovsk at the Amur River, becoming the Ussuri Railway.

In 1890, a bridge across the Ural River was built and the new railway entered Asia. The bridge across the Ob River was built in 1898 and the small city of Novonikolaevsk, founded in 1883, grew into the large Siberian city of Novosibirsk. In 1898 the first train reached Irkutsk and the shores of Lake Baikal about 60 kilometres (37 miles) east of the city. The railway ran on to the east, across the Shilka and Amur rivers and soon reached Khabarovsk. The Vladivostok to Khabarovsk section was built slightly earlier, in 1897.

Russian soldiers, as well as convict labourers from Sakhalin and other places were used for building the railway.

Lake Baikal is more than 640 kilometres (400 miles) long and more than 1,600 metres (5,200 feet) deep. Until the Circum-Baikal Railway was built the line ended on either side of the lake. The ice-breaking train ferry SS Baikal built in 1897 and smaller ferry SS Angara built in about 1900, made the four-hour crossing to link the two railheads.[13][14] The Russian admiral and explorer Stepan Makarov (1849–1904) designed Baikal and Angara but they were built in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, by Armstrong Whitworth. They were "knock down" vessels; that is, each ship was bolted together in England, every part of the ship was marked with a number, the ship was disassembled into many hundreds of parts and transported in kit form to Listvyanka where a shipyard was built especially to reassemble them.[14] Their boilers, engines and some other components were built in Saint Petersburg[14] and transported to Listvyanka to be installed. Baikal had 15 boilers, four funnels, and was 64 metres (210 ft) long. it could carry 24 railway coaches and one locomotive on the middle deck.[13][14] Angara was smaller, with two funnels.[13][14]

Completion of the Circum-Baikal Railway in 1904 bypassed the ferries, but from time to time the Circum-Baikal Railway suffered from derailments or rockfalls so both ships were held in reserve until 1916.[13][14] Baikal was burnt out and destroyed in the Russian Civil War[13][14] but Angara survives.[13] It has been restored and is permanently moored at Irkutsk where it serves as an office and a museum.[13]

In winter, sleighs were used to move passengers and cargo from one side of the lake to the other until the completion of the Lake Baikal spur along the southern edge of the lake.

With the Amur River Line north of the Chinese border being completed in 1916, there was a continuous railway from Petrograd to Vladivostok that remains to this day the world's longest railway line. Electrification of the line, begun in 1929 and completed in 2002, allowed a doubling of train weights to 6,000 tonnes.[citation needed] There were expectations upon electrification that it would increase rail traffic on the line by 40 percent.[15]

The additional Chinese Eastern Railway was constructed as the Russo-Chinese part of the Trans-Siberian Railway, connecting Russia with China and providing a shorter route to Vladivostok. A Russian staff and administration based in Harbin operated it.

Effects[edit]

Siberian peasants watching a train at a station, 1902

As Siberian agriculture began, from around 1869, to send cheap grain westwards,[citation needed] agriculture in Central Russia was still under economic pressure after the end of serfdom, which was formally abolished in 1861. Thus, to defend the central territory and to prevent possible social destabilisation, in 1896 the Tsarist government introduced the Chelyabinsk tariff-break (Челябинский тарифный перелом), a tariff barrier for grain passing through Chelyabinsk, and a similar barrier in Manchuria. This measure changed the nature of export: mills emerged to produce bread from grain in Altai Krai, Novosibirsk and Tomsk, and many farms switched to corn (maize) production. From 1896 until 1913 Siberia exported on average 501,932 tonnes (30,643,000 pood) of bread (grain, flour) annually.[16]

The Trans-Siberian Railway also brought with it millions of peasant-migrants from the Western regions of Russia and Ukraine.[17] Between 1906 and 1914, the peak migration years, about 4 million peasants arrived in Siberia.[18]

The railway immediately filled to capacity with local traffic, mostly wheat. Despite the low speed and low possible weights of trains, the railway fulfilled its promised role as a transit route between Europe and East Asia. During the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–1905, military traffic to the east almost disrupted the flow of civil freight.

War and revolution[edit]

In the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905), the Trans-Siberian Railway was seen as one of the reasons Russia lost the war. The track was a single track and as such could only allow train travel in one direction. This caused significant strategic and supply difficulties for the Russians, as they could not move resources to and from the front as quickly as would be necessary, as a goods train carrying supplies, men and ammunition coming from west to east would have to wait in the sidings, whilst troops and injured personnel in a troop train travelling from east to west went along the line. Thus the Japanese were quickly able to advance whilst the Russians were awaiting necessary troops and supplies. After the Russian Revolution of 1917, the railway served as the vital line of communication for the Czechoslovak Legion and the allied armies that landed troops at Vladivostok during the Siberian Intervention of the Russian Civil War. These forces supported the White Russian government of Admiral Alexander Kolchak, based in Omsk, and White Russian soldiers fighting the Bolsheviks on the Ural front. The intervention was weakened, and ultimately defeated, by partisan fighters who blew up bridges and sections of track, particularly in the volatile region between Krasnoyarsk and Chita.[19][20][21]

The Trans-Siberian Railway also played a very direct role during parts of Russia's history, with the Czechoslovak Legion using heavily armed and armoured trains to control large amounts of the railway (and of Russia itself) during the Russian Civil War at the end of World War I.[22] As one of the few organised fighting forces left in the aftermath of the imperial collapse, and before the Red Army took control, the Czechs and Slovaks were able to use their organisation and the resources of the railway to establish a temporary zone of control before eventually continuing onwards towards Vladivostok, from where they emigrated back to Czechoslovakia through Vancouver in Canada, through Canada to Europe or the Panama Canal to Europe also through Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Port Said and Triest.

World War II[edit]

Main article: Pacific Route

During World War II, the Trans-Siberian Railway played an important role in the supply of the powers fighting in Europe.

During the first two years of the war the USSR was a neutral power. While Germany's merchant shipping was interdicted by the Western allies, the Trans-Siberian Railway (along with its Trans-Manchurian branch) served as the essential link between Germany and Japan. One commodity particularly essential for the German war effort was natural rubber, which Japan was able to source from the South-East Asia (in particular, French Indochina). As of March 1941, 300 tonnes of this material would, on average, traverse the Transsiberian Railway every day on its way to Germany. According to one analysis of natural rubber supply chain, as of March 22, 1941, 5800 tonnes of this essential material were transiting on the Soviet railway network between the borders of Manchukuo and the Third Reich, 2000 tonnes were transiting Manchukuo, 4000 tonnes were sitting in Dairen, 3800 tonnes were in Japan, and 5700 tonnes, on the way from South-East Asia to Japan.[23]

At this time, a number of Jews and anti-Nazis used the Trans-Siberian Railway to escape Europe, including the mathematician Kurt Gödel and the mother of the actor Heinz Bernard[24] Several thousand Jewish refugees were able to make this trip thanks to the Japanese visas issued by the Japanese consul, Chiune Sugihara, in Kaunas, Lithuania. Typically they would travel east on the Trans-Siberian Railway to the Pacific Ocean where they would board a ship bound for the USA.

The situation reversed after 22 June 1941. By invading the Soviet Union, Germany cut off its only reliable trade route to Japan. Instead, it had to use fast merchant ships (blockade runners) and later large oceanic submarines in an attempt to evade the allied maritime patrols. On the other hand, the USSR became the recipient of lend lease supplies from the USA. Even though Japan went to war with the USA, it was anxious to preserve good relations with the USSR and, despite German complaints, usually allowed Soviet ships to sail between the USA and Russia's Pacific ports unmolested[25] This contrasted with Germany and Britain's behaviour, whose navies would destroy or capture neutrals' ships sailing to their respective adversaries. As a result, the Pacific Route – involving crossing the northern Pacific Ocean and the Trans-Siberian Railway – became the safest connection between the USA and the USSR. Accordingly, it accounted for as much freight as the two other routes (North Atlantic–Arctic and Iranian) combined.

From 1941 to 1942 the railway also played an important role in relocating Soviet industries from European Russia to Siberia in the face of the German invasion. The railway also transported Soviet troops east from Germany to the Japanese front in preparation for the Soviet–Japanese War of August 1945.

The railway today[edit]

The Trans-Siberian line remains the most important transport link within Russia; around 30% of Russian exports travel on the line. While it attracts many foreign tourists, it gets most of its use from domestic passengers.

The Trans-Siberian is a vital link to the Russian Far East.

Today the Trans-Siberian Railway carries about 200,000 containers per year to Europe. Russian Railways intends to at least double the volume of container traffic on the Trans-Siberian and is developing a fleet of specialised cars and increasing terminal capacity at the ports by a factor of 3 to 4. By 2010, the volume of traffic between Russia and China could reach 60 million tons (54 million tonnes), most of which will go by the Trans-Siberian.[26]

With perfect coordination of the participating countries' railway authorities, a trainload of containers can be taken from Beijing to Hamburg, via the Trans-Mongolian and Trans-Siberian lines in as little as 15 days, but typical cargo transit times are usually significantly longer[27] and typical cargo transit time from Japan to major destinations in European Russia was reported as around 25 days.[28]

According to a 2009 report, the best travel times for cargo block trains from Russia's Pacific ports to the western border (of Russia, or perhaps of Belarus) were around 12 days, with trains making around 900 km (559 mi) per day, at a maximum operating speed of 80 km/h (50 mph). However, in early 2009 Russian Railways announced an ambitious "Trans-Siberian in Seven Days" programme; according to this plan, $11 billion will be invested over the next five years to make it possible for goods traffic to cover the same 9,000 km (5,592 mi) distance in just seven days. The plan will involve increasing the cargo trains' speed to 90 km/h (56 mph) in 2010–12, and, at least on some sections, to 100 km/h (62 mph) by 2015. At these speeds, goods trains will be able to cover 1,500 km (932 mi) per day.[29]

Developments in shipping[edit]

On 11 January 2008, China, Mongolia, Russia, Belarus, Poland and Germany agreed to collaborate on a cargo train service between Beijing and Hamburg.[30]

The railway can typically deliver containers in 13 to 12 of the time of a sea voyage, and in late 2009 announced a 20% reduction in its container shipping rates. With its 2009 rate schedule, the TSR will transport a forty-foot container to Poland from Yokohama for $2,820, or from Busan for $2,154.[31]

One of the most complicating factors related to such ventures is the fact that the CIS states' broad railway gauge is incompatible with China and Western and Central Europe's standard gauge. Therefore, a train travelling from China to Western Europe would encounter gauge breaks twice: at the Chinese–Mongolian or the Chinese–Russian frontier and at the Ukrainian or the Belorussian border with Central European countries.

Gallery[edit]

Routes[edit]

In general, the lower the train number the fewer stops it makes and therefore the faster the journey. The train number makes no difference in the duration of border crossings.

Trans-Siberian line[edit]

A commonly used main line route is as follows. Distances and travel times are from the schedule of train No.002M, Moscow–Vladivostok.[4]

Location Distance Travel
Time
Time Zone Notes
Moscow, Yaroslavsky Rail Terminal 0 km (0 mi) Moscow
Time
Vladimir 210 km (130 mi) MT
Nizhny Novgorod 461 km (286 mi) 6 hours MT on the Volga River
Kirov 917 km (570 mi) 13 hours MT on the Vyatka River
Perm 1,397 km (868 mi) 20 hours MT+2 on the Kama River
Official boundary between Europe and Asia 1,777 km (1,104 mi) marked by a white obelisk
Yekaterinburg 1,816 km (1,128 mi) 1 day 2 hours MT+2 in the Urals, still called by its old Soviet name Sverdlovsk in most timetables
Tyumen 2,104 km (1,307 mi)
Omsk 2,676 km (1,663 mi) 1 day 14 hours MT+3 on the Irtysh River
Novosibirsk 3,303 km (2,052 mi) 1 day 22 hours MT+3 on the Ob River; Turk-Sib railway branches from here
Krasnoyarsk 4,065 km (2,526 mi) 2 days 11 hours MT+4 on the Yenisei River
Taishet 4,483 km (2,786 mi) junction with the Baikal-Amur Mainline
Irkutsk 5,153 km (3,202 mi) 3 days 4 hours MT+5 near Lake Baikal's southern extremity
Ulan Ude 5,609 km (3,485 mi) 3 days 12 hours MT+5 eastern shore of Lake Baikal
Junction with the Trans-Mongolian line 5,622 km (3,493 mi)
Chita 6,166 km (3,831 mi) 3 days 22 hours MT+6
Junction with the Trans-Manchurian line at Tarskaya 6,274 km (3,898 mi)
Birobidzhan 8,312 km (5,165 mi) 5 days 13 hours capital of the Jewish Autonomous Region
Khabarovsk 8,493 km (5,277 mi) 5 days 15 hours MT+7 on the Amur River
Ussuriysk 9,147 km (5,684 mi) junction with the Trans-Manchurian line and Korea branch; located in Varanovsky, 13 km (8 miles) from Ussuriysk
Vladivostok 9,289 km (5,772 mi) 6 days 4 hours MT+7 on the Pacific Ocean
Services to North Korea continue from Ussuriysk via:
Primorskaya station 9,257 km (5,752 mi) 6 days 14 hours MT+7
Khasan 9,407 km (5,845 mi) 6 days 19 hours MT+7 border with North Korea
Tumangang 9,412 km (5,848 mi) 7 days 10 hours MT+5:30 North Korean side of the border
Pyongyang 10,267 km (6,380 mi) 9 days 2 hours MT+5:30
The marker for kilometre 9,288 at the end of the Trans-Siberian Railway in Vladivostok

There are many alternative routings between Moscow and Siberia. For example:

  • Some trains would leave Moscow from Kazansky Rail Terminal instead of Yaroslavsky Rail Terminal; this would save some 20 km (12 mi) off the distances, because it provides a shorter exit from Moscow onto the Nizhny Novgorod main line.
  • One can take a night train from Moscow's Kursky Rail Terminal to Nizhny Novgorod, make a stopover in the Nizhny and then transfer to a Siberia-bound train
  • From 1956 to 2001 many trains went between Moscow and Kirov via Yaroslavl instead of Nizhny Novgorod. This would add some 29 km (18 mi) to the distances from Moscow, making the total distance to Vladivostok at 9,288 km (5,771 mi).
  • Other trains get from Moscow (Kazansky Terminal) to Yekaterinburg via Kazan.
  • Between Yekaterinburg and Omsk it is possible to travel via Kurgan Petropavlovsk (in Kazakhstan) instead of Tyumen.
  • One can bypass Yekaterinburg altogether by travelling via Samara, Ufa, Chelyabinsk and Petropavlovsk; this was historically the earliest configuration.

Depending on the route taken, the distances from Moscow to the same station in Siberia may differ by several tens of km.

Trans-Manchurian line[edit]

The Trans-Manchurian line, as e.g. used by train No.020, Moscow–Beijing[32] follows the same route as the Trans-Siberian between Moscow and Chita and then follows this route to China:

  • Branch off from the Trans-Siberian-line at Tarskaya (6,274 km (3,898 mi) from Moscow)
  • Zabaikalsk (6,626 km), Russian border town; there is a break-of-gauge
  • Manzhouli (6,638 km (4,125 mi) from Moscow, 2,323 km (1,443 mi) from Beijing), Chinese border town
  • Harbin (7,573 km (4,706 mi), 1,388 km)
  • Changchun (7,820 km (4,859 mi) from Moscow)
  • Beijing (8,961 km (5,568 mi) from Moscow)

The express train (No. 020) travel time from Moscow to Beijing is just over six days.

There is no direct passenger service along the entire original Trans-Manchurian route (i.e., from Moscow or anywhere in Russia, west of Manchuria, to Vladivostok via Harbin), due to the obvious administrative and technical (gauge break) inconveniences of crossing the border twice. However, assuming sufficient patience and possession of appropriate visas, it is still possible to travel all the way along the original route, with a few stopovers (e.g. in Harbin, Grodekovo and Ussuriysk).[33][34][35] Such an itinerary would pass through the following points from Harbin east:

Trans-Mongolian line[edit]

The Trans-Mongolian line follows the same route as the Trans-Siberian between Moscow and Ulan Ude, and then follows this route to Mongolia and China:

  • Branch off from the Trans-Siberian line (5,655 km (3,514 mi) from Moscow)
  • Naushki (5,895 km (3,663 mi), MT+5), Russian border town
  • RussianMongolian border (5,900 km (3,666 mi), MT+5)
  • Sükhbaatar (5,921 km (3,679 mi), MT+5), Mongolian border town
  • Ulaanbaatar (6,304 km (3,917 mi), MT+5), the Mongolian capital
  • Zamyn-Üüd (7,013 km (4,358 mi), MT+5), Mongolian border town
  • Erenhot (842 km (523 mi) from Beijing, MT+5), Chinese border town
  • Datong (371 km (231 mi), MT+5)
  • Beijing (MT+5)

Cultural importance[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Lonely Planet Guide to the Trans-Siberian Railway" (PDF). Lonely Planet Publications. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 5, 2012. Retrieved 2013. 
  2. ^ "The Trans-Siberian Railway – the second longest railway in the world". January 31, 2011. 
  3. ^ Meakin, Annette, A Ribbon of Iron (1901), reprinted in 1970 as part of the Russia Observed series (Arno Press/New York Times)(OCLC 118166).
  4. ^ a b "CIS railway timetable, route No. 002, Moscow-Vladivostok". Archived from the original on December 3, 2009. 
  5. ^ "CIS railway timetable, route No. 002, Moscow-Pyongyang". Archived from the original on December 3, 2009. 
  6. ^ "CIS railway timetable, route No. 350, Kiev-Vladivostok". Archived from the original on December 3, 2009. 
  7. ^ "Russia train makes inaugural run to NKorea". October 13, 2011. [dead link]
  8. ^ Alexeev, V. V.; Bandman, M. K.; Kuleshov—Novosibirsk, V. V., eds. (2002). Problem Regions of Resource Type: Economical Integration of European North-East, Ural and Siberia. IEIE. ISBN 5-89665-060-4. 
  9. ^ March, G. Patrick (1996). Eastern Destiny: Russia in Asia and the North Pacific. Praeger/Greenwood. pp. 152–53. ISBN 0-275-95648-2. 
  10. ^ "The Great Siberian Iron Road", The Daily News (London), 30 December 1896, p. 7.
  11. ^ Davis, Clarence B.; Wilburn, Kenneth E., Jr; Robinson, Ronald E. (1991). "Russia, the Soviet Union, and the Chinese Eastern Railway". Railway Imperialism. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. p. 140. ISBN 9780313259661. Retrieved 24 July 2015 – via Questia. (subscription required (help)). 
  12. ^ Pleshakov, Constantine (2002). The Tsar's Last Armada: The Epic Journey to the Battle of Tsushima. New York: Basic Books. p. 10. ISBN 0465057926. Retrieved 3 October 2015 – via Questia. (subscription required (help)). 
  13. ^ a b c d e f g "Irkutsk: Ice-Breaker "Angara"". Lake Baikal Travel Company. Lake Baikal Travel Company. Retrieved September 15, 2011. 
  14. ^ a b c d e f g Babanine, Fedor (2003). "Circumbaikal Railway". Lake Baikal Homepage. Fedor Babanine. Retrieved September 15, 2011. 
  15. ^ "Russia's legendary Trans-Siberian railroad line completely electrified". Associated Press. 25 December 2002. Retrieved 14 June 2015 – via HighBeam Research. (subscription required (help)). 
  16. ^ Храмков, А. А. (2001). "Железнодорожные перевозки хлеба из Сибири в западном направлении в конце XIX—начале XX вв" [Railroad transportation of bread from Siberia westwards in the late 19th–early 20th centuries]. Предприниматели и предпринимательство в Сибири. Вып.3 [Entrepreneurs and business undertakings in Siberia. 3rd issue]. Барнаул: Изд-во АГУ. ISBN 5-7904-0195-3. 
  17. ^ Subtelny, Orest (2000). Ukraine: a history. University of Toronto Press. p. 262. ISBN 0-8020-8390-0. 
  18. ^ Dronin, N. M.; Bellinger, E. G. (2005). Climate dependence and food problems in Russia, 1900–1990: the interaction of climate and agricultural policy and their effect on food problems. Central European University Press. p. 38. ISBN 963-7326-10-3. 
  19. ^ Isitt, Benjamin (June 2006). "Mutiny from Victoria to Vladivostok, December 1918". Canadian Historical Review 87 (2): 223–264. doi:10.3138/chr/87.2.223. 
  20. ^ "Canada's Siberian Expedition Digital Archive". [full citation needed]
  21. ^ "Siberian Expedition website". [full citation needed]
  22. ^ Willmott, H.P. (2003). First World War. Dorling Kindersley. p. 251. 
  23. ^ Martin, Bernd (1969), Deutschland und Japan Im Zweiten Weltkrieg, Musterschmidt Verlag, p. 155 
  24. ^ Lowenstein, Jonathan (April 26, 2010). "The Journey of a Lifetime: my grandmother's escape on the Trans-Siberian railway". Telaviv1. 
  25. ^ Martin 1969, p. 174
  26. ^ "Transsiberian Railway (from Russian Railways official website)". Eng.rzd.ru. Archived from the original on November 27, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2012. 
  27. ^ Donahue, Patrick (January 24, 2008). "China-to-Germany Cargo Train Completes Trial Run in 15 Days". Bloomberg.com. 
  28. ^ Kachi, Hiroyuki (July 20, 2007). "Mitsui talking to Russian railway operator on trans-Siberian freight service". MarketWatch.com. 
  29. ^ "Trans-Siberian in seven days". Railway Gazette International. May 5, 2009. 
  30. ^ "Beijing to Hamburg fast cargo rail link planned". The China Post. January 11, 2008. Retrieved April 23, 2012. 
  31. ^ "Chapter 4: Freight Rates" (PDF). Review of Maritime Transport (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development): 89. 2010. ISSN 0566-7682. Retrieved December 31, 2011. 
  32. ^ "CIS railway timetable, route No. 020, Moscow-Beijing". Archived from the original on December 3, 2009. 
  33. ^ "Harbin-Suifenhe train schedule". Archived from the original on March 14, 2013. 
  34. ^ "Grodekovo-Harbin schedule". November 2006.  (Note that Russian train sites give incorrect kilometre distance between Chinese stations).[dead link]
  35. ^ "Grodekovo-Ussuriysk schedule". November 2006. [dead link]

Further reading[edit]

  • Ames, Edward (1947). "A century of Russian railroad construction: 1837–1936". American Slavic and East European Review 6 (3/4): 57–74. doi:10.2307/2491700. JSTOR 2491700. 
  • Dawson Jr, John W (2002). "Max Dehn, Kurt Gödel, and the Trans-Siberian escape route". Notices of the AMS (49.9). 
  • Marks, S.G. (1991). Road to Power: The Trans-Siberian Railroad and the Colonization of Asian Russia, 1850–1917. ISBN 0-8014-2533-6. 
  • Faulstich, Edith M. (1972–1977). The Siberian Sojourn. Yonkers, N.Y. 
  • Metzer, Jacob (1976). "Railroads in Tsarist Russia: Direct gains and implications". Explorations in Economic History 13 (1): 85–111. doi:10.1016/0014-4983(76)90006-1. 
  • Miller, Elisa B. (1978). "The Trans-Siberian landbridge, a new trade route between Japan and Europe: issues and prospects". Soviet Geography (19.4): 223–243. 
  • North, Robert N. (1979). Transport in western Siberia: Tsarist and Soviet development. University of British Columbia Press. 
  • Reichman, Henry (1988). "The 1905 Revolution on the Siberian Railroad". Russian Review 47 (1): 25–48. doi:10.2307/130442. JSTOR 130442. 
  • Richmond, Simon (2009). Trans-Siberian Railway. Lonely Planet.  Guide book for travelers
  • Thomas, Bryn (2003). The Trans-Siberian Handbook (6th ed.). Trailblazer. ISBN 1-873756-70-4.  Guide book for travelers
  • Tupper, Harmon (1965). To the great ocean: Siberia and the Trans-Siberian Railway. Little, Brown. 
  • Westwood, John Norton (1964). A history of Russian railways. G. Allen and Unwin. 
  • Калиничев, В. П. (1991). Великий Сиберский путь (историко-экономический очерк) (in Russian). Москва: Транспорт. ISBN 5-277-00758-X. 
  • Omrani, Bijan (2010). Asia Overland: Tales of Travel on the Trans-Siberian and Silk Road. Odyssey Publications. ISBN 962-217-811-1. 
  • Wolmar, Christian (2013). To the Edge of the World. PublicAffairs/Atlantic Publications. ISBN 978-1-61039-452-9. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Trans-Siberian railway at Wikimedia Commons