Baikal Irkutsk Trans Siberian

Trans-Siberian Railway 

On other pages: Trans-Siberian Tours ; Train Travel Guide ; Trains to Baikal ; Circum-Baikal Train Tours  

The world famous Trans-Siberian Railway or as it is also called the Great Siberian Way does not need a special introduction. This is the railway network that connected Moscow and European part of Russia with Siberia, Russian Far East provinces, Mongolia and China. The construction of the longest railway in the world of 9,259 km (5,753 mi) was one of the most significant events in the history of Russia. The TransSib as it is locally known in Russia has changed the life of many people as it united the immense country and made traveling from European part of Russia to a remote Siberia practically possible.

It all began even before February 1891, when the Committee of Ministers found it possible to start construction of the railway that would cross the whole continent. Not many people know that it was N. N. Muravyov-Amursky, the general governor of Eastern Siberia resided in Irkutsk, who raised a question of the railway construction on the Siberian outskirts of Russia. He believed this would facilitate economic development of Siberia and Russia’s Far East.

Even in the late XIX-th century the country suffered from poor transport infrastructure between Siberia and European part of Russia. In the summer, water ways served as the main transport routes that connected cities since most of those cities where founded on the banks of large rivers. However, the rivers here are navigable only in north to south direction while the trip from east to west of the country took many months on horse-drawn sleds or wagons along the poor roads. The railway could be the only real solution for these transport problems.

The construction began only in 1891. Russian Emperor Alexander III as an active emperor of the Russian Empire gave the first real impulse to implementation of the plan. Nothing of the kind in terms of scale and engineering complexity has been done before. Talented engineers, hired workers (among them there were many foreigners), peasants, soldiers, prisoners were involved in the Transsib construction.

The railroad was being constructed from the both ends: eastbound from Moscow and westbound from Vladivostok. In 1898, the first train from Moscow reached Irkutsk. The track from Vladivostok in turn ended up at Mysovya station on Lake Baikal eastern shore. The lake had become the natural barrier on the way of the Trans-Siberian. It took another 15 years, from 1899 to 1915, to lay a two way track around the southern extremity of Lake Baikal.

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