Trans-Siberian Railway

The Trans-Siberian Railway is the World's Longest Railroad

The Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express
The Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express, a fully en-suite private train, serves the world's longest railway line and bring new levels of comfort and service to rail travel in Russia. Train Chartering & Private Rail Cars/Flickr

The Trans-Siberian Railway is the longest railway in the world and crosses nearly all of Russia, the world’s largest country by area. At approximately 9200 kilometers or 5700 miles, the train leaves Moscow, located in European Russia, crosses into Asia, and reaches the Pacific Ocean port of Vladivostok. The journey can also be completed from east to west.

The Trans-Siberian Railway crosses seven time zones through land that can become bitterly cold in the winter. The railway initiated increased development of Siberia, although the vast expanse of land still is sparsely populated. People from around the world ride through Russia on the Trans-Siberian Railway. The Trans-Siberian Railway facilitates the transport of goods and natural resources like grain, coal, oil, and wood, from Russia and eastern Asia to European countries, greatly influencing the world economy.

History of the Trans-Siberian Railway

In the 19th century, Russia believed that the development of Siberia was crucial to Russian military and economic interests. Construction of the Trans-Siberian Railway began in 1891, during the reign of Czar Alexander III. Soldiers and prisoners were the primary workers, and they worked from both ends of Russia toward the center. The original route passed through Manchuria, China, but the current route, entirely through Russia, completed construction in 1916, during the reign of Czar Nicholas II. The railway opened up Siberia for further economic development, and many people moved to the region and founded several new cities.

Industrialization thrived, though this often polluted Siberia’s pristine landscape. The railway enabled people and supplies to move around Russia during the two world wars. Many technological improvements were made to the line over the last several decades.

Destinations on the Trans-Siberian Railway

Nonstop travel from Moscow to Vladivostok takes about eight days. However, travelers can exit the train in several destinations to explore some of the most important geographic features in Russia, like cities, mountain ranges, forests, and waterways. From west to east, the main stops on the railway are:

1. Moscow is the capital of Russia and is the western terminus point for the Trans-Siberian Railway.
2.Nizhny Novgorod is an industrial city located on the Volga River, the longest river in Russia.
3. Travelers on the Trans-Siberian Railway then pass through the Ural Mountains, commonly known as the border between Europe and Asia. Yekaterinburg is a major city in the Ural Mountains. (Czar Nicholas II and his family were transported to Yekaterinburg in 1918 and executed.)
4. After crossing the Irtysh River and traveling several hundred miles, travelers reach Novosibirsk, the largest city in Siberia. Located on the Ob River, Novosibirsk is home to about 1.4 million people, and is the third largest city in Russia, after Moscow and St. Petersburg.
5. Krasnoyarsk is located on the Yenisey River.
6. Irkutsk is located very close to the beautiful Lake Baikal, the largest and deepest freshwater lake in the world.
7. The region around Ulan-Ude, home to the Buryat ethnic group, is the center of Buddhism in Russia.

The Buryats are related to the Mongolians.
8. Khabarovsk is located on the Amur River.
9. Ussuriysk provides trains into North Korea.
10. Vladivostok, the eastern terminus of the Trans-Siberian Railway, is the largest Russian port on the Pacific Ocean. Vladivostok was founded in 1860. It is home to the Russian Pacific Fleet and has a superb natural harbor. Ferries to Japan and South Korea are based there.

The Trans-Manchurian and Trans-Mongolian Railways

Travelers on the Trans-Siberian Railway can also travel from Moscow to Beijing, China. A few hundred miles east of Lake Baikal, the Trans-Manchurian Railway branches off from the Trans-Siberian Railway and travels across Manchuria, the region in Northeast China, through the city of Harbin. It soon reaches Beijing.

The Trans-Mongolian Railway begins in Ulan-Ude, Russia. The train travels through the capital of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar, and the Gobi Desert. It enters China and terminates in Beijing.

The Baikal-Amur Mainline

Since the Trans-Siberian Railway travels through southern Siberia, a rail line to the Pacific Ocean that crossed central Siberia was needed. After many decades of intermittent construction, the Baikal-Amur Mainline (BAM) opened in 1991. BAM begins in Taishet, west of Lake Baikal. The line runs to the north of and parallel to the Trans-Siberian. The BAM crosses the Angara, Lena, and Amur Rivers, through large sections of permafrost. After stopping in the cities of Bratsk and Tynda, the BAM reaches the Pacific Ocean, at about the same latitude as the center of the Russian island of Sakhalin, located north of the Japanese island of Hokkaido. BAM carries oil, coal, timber, and other products. BAM is known as the “construction project of the century,” due to the enormous cost and difficult engineering that was required to build a railway in an isolated region.

Beneficial Transportation of the Trans-Siberian Railway

The Trans-Siberian Railway transports people and freight across immense, scenic Russia. The adventure can even continue into Mongolia and China. The Trans-Siberian Railway has benefited Russia immensely in the last one hundred years, facilitating the transport of Russia’s plethora of resources to distant corners of the globe.