Trans-Siberian Railway : Spanning the length of Russia

Moscow is considering plans to develop the Trans-Siberian Railway as an international transport corridor linking Europe and the countries of the Asia-Pacific region.

The Trans-Siberian Railway is featured in the “Guinness Book of Records”for three categories: total length, number of stations, and construction time. At the beginning of the 20th century, the railway line provided a reliable transport service that linked the European and Asian parts of Russia.

The Trans-Siberian Railway was built in several stages and consisted of six sections. The first stage — the Ussuriysk Railway from Vladivostok to Khabarovsk — is 477 miles long.

It was completed and put into operation six years after the first stone was laid in Vladivostok in 1891. The West Siberian Railway from Chelyabinsk to the River Ob — the second stage — was 800 miles long and built in a record time of four years. The third section — the Mid-Siberian Railway from the River Ob to Irkutsk — which was 1,137 miles long, was built in the six years between 1893 and 1899.

Building the third section was significantly more difficult from an engineering point of view, as the flat land gave way to mountainous territory.

Construction of the 161-mile-long Circum-Baikal Railway was postponed because of technical difficulties. In 1900, a ferry service for trains began operating on a 45-mile route across Lake Baikal: The icebreakers Baikaland Angara carried trains across the icy river for five years.

In the winter of 1903–1904, around 28 miles of rail track were laid straight onto the ice, and wagons and steam locomotives were hauled across it by horses. The inefficiency of this method of crossing the lake was keenly felt, however, during the Russo-Japanese War. Thus, in 1902 construction of the Circum-Baikal Railway began.

The lake shore between the Port Baikal and Kultuk stations was a rocky ridge (50 miles long) rising a quarter-mile above the lake. Almost nine miles of retaining walls were built along the route, along with 445 steel bridges, six stone viaducts, 47 rockfall protection galleries and 39 tunnels totaling 4.5 miles in length.

There was nothing in the world that could match this section in terms of the cost, scale and difficulty of its construction. Nevertheless, it was completed in just two years and put into operation a year ahead of schedule.

In May 1908, the final decision was made to build the last stage of the Trans-Siberian — the Amur Railway. This is where improved track with gravel ballast was first constructed. It is also where the world’s first tunnel through permafrost was built, with an insulating layer between the rock and the lining of the tunnel.

Construction of the Trans-Siberian Railway across Russia was officially completed in 1916, during World War I, when the 1,353-mile-long Amur Railway was brought into operation.

The Trans-Siberian did not simply link Siberia and the Far East with the rest of Russia: it created a string of new towns and settlements in the most remote parts of the country. Today, the Trans-Siberian Railway is becoming one of the main tourist routes in Russia, along with Lake Baikal, Moscow, St. Petersburg and the “Golden Ring” of historic cities.

The biggest cities along the railway are Vladivostok, Khabarovsk, Irkutsk, Yekaterinburg, Nizhny Novgorod and Moscow. The new system for buying tickets makes it possible to take a hop-on-hop-off tour and spend a few days in each of these cities.

Trans-Siberian Railway

Source : indrus

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