Trans-Siberian Route: Interesting Facts about The Longest Railways
What is the Trans-Siberian Railway?
The Trans-Siberian Railway (TransSib) is one of the most famous railways in the world. Actually, it’s the whole network of railways connecting Moscow with the Far East of the country.
You know, Russia is the country of records. The Trans-Siberian Railway is the longest railway in the world (9,288.2 km), the largest and most expensive project of its time. The construction of the highway took 25 years and cost 25 billion US dollars at the current rate!
The road passes through 7 time zones and 87 cities and towns. Today, it takes you 6 days to ride from Moscow to Vladivostok by the Train №1 which is called “Russia”. Despite the distance, the railway station in Moscow is very similar to the one in Vladivostok.
Useful Links About Trans-Siberian Route
We found several useful links for you. Here they are:
Short pdf-file about the TransSib:
Trans-Siberian Railway Records
Trans-Siberian Railway: Facts
1. The longest railway on the planet
The actual length of the Trans-Siberian Railway is 9288.2 km or 5772 miles. It is the longest railway on the planet crossing almost all of Eurasia. The Trans-Siberian Railway begins at the Yaroslavl Station in Moscow and finished in Vladivistok, it’s the Far East of Russia.
2. One mainland and two continents
The Trans-Siberian Railway passes through two continents: Europe (1777 km) and Asia (7512 km or 80% of the route) and crosses the whole Eurasia. The conditional border of Europe and Asia is the 1778th km of the Trans-Siberian Railway. You may see a memorial sign that is called “the border of Europe and Asia” near the Pervouralsk town (Ural Mountains).
3. Throughout Russia
The Transsib passes through 12 regions, 2 republics, 1 autonomous region and 1 district. The list is long: Moscow, Vladimir, Yaroslavl, Kostroma, Kirov regions, Udmurt Republic, Perm Territory, Sverdlovsk, Tyumen, Omsk, Novosibirsk, Kemerovo Regions , Krasnoyarsk Territory, Irkutsk Region, Irkutsk Region, Buryat Republic, Trans-Baikal Territory, Amur Region, Jewish Autonomous Region, Border of the Chita and Amur Regions of Khabarovsk and Primorsky territories. If you are lucky, then you will see signs of the administrative boundaries on your way.
4. 90 cities and towns along the highway
There are 87 cities on the Trans-Siberian Railway. Five cities have a population of over 1 million people: Moscow, Perm, Yekaterinburg, Omsk, Novosibirsk. Nine cities have from 300,000 to 1 million of people: Yaroslavl, Kirov, Tyumen, Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk, Ulan-Ude, Chita, Khabarovsk, Vladivostok. There are 73 towns with less population. More about the cities of the Trans-Siberian you may find here.
5. Big rivers of Eurasia on our way
The Transsib crosses 16 major rivers as well: the Volga, Vyatka, Kama, Tobol, Irtysh, Ob, Tom, Chulym, Yenisei, Oka, Selenga, Zeya, Bureya, Amur, Khor, Ussuri rivers. The bridge across the Amur is the widest one (about 2 km)! Bridges actoss Ob and Yenisei rivers are about 1 km. Khor river is the most dangerous one on the way cause during the flood period, the river may rise by 9 meters. Another river, Khilok, eroded and destroyed most of the western section of the Transbaikal Road during the flood of 1897.
6. An Unique Baikal Lake
The Trans-Siberian Railway runs along Lake Baikal for 200 km! This is the unique, deepest lake in the world with the greatest depth of 1637 m. It’s the largest reservoir of fresh water on the planet. The shores and surroundings of Lake Baikal are beautiful so you can enjoy the view of the snowy mountains, stunningly clear water and unique natural attractions.
8. Pole of cold
The cold pole of the Trans-Siberian Railway is the Mogocha-Skovorodino section. The lowest winter temperatures reach -62С degrees with continuous permafrost around. The mildest climate places are near Vladivostok on the shores of the Amur Bay.
9. The highest and the lowest points
The highest point above sea level of 1040 meters height is the Yablon Pass in Transbaikalia. But mostly TransSib goes through the flat part of the region, cause Russia is not the country with a big mountain area. The lowest point (about 4 m above sea level) is near Ussuriysk town on the 9252 km of the road.
10. The longest tunnels
The longest tunnel passes under Amur river along the Amur bridge and lasts for 7200 m. It was built for strategic reasons in 1937-1942. Today, the main passage goes along the Amur bridge, so the longest tunnel on the main route is Tarmanchukansky tunnel with a length about 2 km. In total, 15 tunnels are located on the main course of the Trans-Siberian Railway.
11. The largest station
The Novosibirsk Train Station is the largest TransSib station. It was built in 1940 before the Great Patriotic War. It is made in the typical “Stalin” style.
Trans-Siberian Railways Map: From Moscow to Vladivostok
Story of Trans-Siberian Railways Construction: How To Unite Russia?
There are still myths about the “dark, backward tsarist Russia”, introduced by the Communists. Unfortunately, many successful projects of Soviet times were based on the exploitation of people. But even GULAG didn’t help the USSR to get ahead of the Russian Empire in many respects. For example, the famous Trans-Siberian Railway was built in 13 years in the Tsar Times as well as half of the modern railways.
How is that possible and why it was so important in that time? Read the interesting story below.
Was Russia United?
It‘s not easy to read maps! Look at the map of Russia at the beginning of the 10th century. What a huge and mighty country it should be… we may rejoice over our ancestors! But in reality, Russia was not a single country as it is now. In the meantime, the power of the Russian princes extended to Kiev and to a few cities with loyal warriors.
Three Continents of Russian Empire
In the second half of the XIX century, the map shows the Russian Empire as a huge single region, the biggest Empire in the world. However, its unity was seeming. Russia was divided into several parts because of the distance! The largest and most populated area lay from the western borders to the Volga. By the 1980s, it was covered by a dense network of railways, roads, and river navigation, horse carriages passed the streets of crowded cities, and the first trams merrily rang. The telegraph wire connected the vast space of European Russia into a single information network!
Vladivostok remained the overseas possessions of the Empire being on the shores of the Pacific Ocean. It‘s not a mistake! People sailed to the Far East by sea, not by land transport. If the traveler needed to get from St. Petersburg to Vladivostok, then he took a train ticket to Odessa (modern Ukraine). Then traveler booked a comfortable and high-speed steamship to get to Primorye for about a month. It was the fastest and the most convenient way to travel and convey goods.
The Empire of Siberia lay between these two regions… Huge poorly populated and connected area, where civilization survived only around ancient cities along a thin thread of the Siberian tract.
The path remained the same for centuries. In winter, it was possible to drive for hundreds of miles a day on sleighs, in the summer, it‘s good to move forward for 40 km through the mud. It took a month for mail to reach Irkutsk. The Siberian tract reached Chita and suddenly ended for the wheeled track. What an amazing place to travel.
The Trans-Siberian Railways could unite the country! The planned route was divided into several paths, so the construction began at the same time in several areas. The idea was to revive the economy by increasing the trading and production of iron and steel and other goods. Finally, the Siberia could be involved in the economy of the country.
Siberian nature is severe. Taiga, mountains, rocks, wide rivers, and other obstacles for construction… The bridge across the Ob River was opened in 1897, and the city of Novosibirsk arose there. While the Circum-Baikal Railway had been built through the rocks, trains crossed Baikal by ferry, and in winter rails were laid on ice..
Following the brand new railways, thousands of settlers reached new places. They have been suffering for years from the lack of land in the European part of Russia, so now they got a chance for a better life. The road has become a social phenomenon.
In 1901, the first train passed from St. Petersburg to Vladivostok… A steel thread finally bound Russia into a single country! It became possible to travel from the capital of the Empire to the waters of the Great Ocean in just 14 days in a comfortable train!
Interesting Facts about Building Trans-Siberian Railways
• Russian Empire built two times more kilometers of railways than the Soviet regime! A half of the modern railways were built before the USSR.
• 20 thousand workers were employed to build the Trans-Siberian Railways. Chinese and Korean workers were not involved due to political reasons. The common Soviet belief that convicts were building a road is a myth.
• Vladimir Lenin argued that “the road was great not only in its length but also in the immense plunder of state money, in the immense exploitation of the workers who built it.”
• Outbreaks of famine in the Russian Empire occurred mainly not because of a bread shortage, but because of the inability to bring it from the southern provinces to the poor ones.
• Nicholas I did not welcome the development of railways except Moscow to St. Petersburg railroad. He believed that it’s not the basic need, but a luxury because they encourage unnecessary movements and traveling from place to place.
• Many others agreed: “The first thing to expect from the road is crowds of local drunks, artisans and traders. Then prices will rise, and the region will be flooded with foreigners becoming impossible to maintain the order
• Russian Railways were always corrupt. The first railroad state corporation did not build anything and went bankrupt, but its director bought a mansion and estate.
• It took Anton Chekhov three months to travel from Moscow to Sakhalin in 1890 (without TransSib).
• Construction took 25 years. The last facility was built in 1916. The average laying speed was one and a half kilometers per day.
• The only station in the world entirely built of marble opened at the Slyudyanka station.
• The passenger express train went from St. Petersburg to Vladivostok for 12 days. Now, travel time has been reduced to seven days thanks to electric traction and no single-track sections. Do not worry! Modern comfort cars on the Trans-Siberian Railway are equipped with showers :)