One of the many remarkable benefits of railway modeling is that it enables modelers to know more about railway transport systems in the world, their fascinating origin, and their rich legacy. Among the first things to discover is the Trans-Siberian Railway, famed for being the world’s longest railway line. It stretches from one end of Russia to the other and measures at an impressive length of 9,288 km in length.
Embarking on an overland journey is also hard-to-beat, as it reveals the country’s beauty, from the majesty of its cities and village to the stunning Lake Baikal and the untouched charm of the Ural mountains. If that isn’t enough to keep you in awe, here’s a list of other jaw-dropping facts about the Trans-Siberian Railway.
1. It was built entirely from government funds.
Trans-Siberian Railway was the Russian Empire’s final successful project before its fall. Citing the importance of the railway for the dynasty, it was constructed purely from state money, despite many foreign companies showing intent to assist with the funding. First conceived during the middle of the 19th century, the decision to build it with no foreign influence resulted in a huge delay, with its construction only started in 1891. Yet, the choice to get full ownership of the railroad proved to be valuable for Russia, as it now covers 80% of its industrial potential.
2. It was formally completed in 1916.
Specific sections on the Trans-Siberian Railway started running and transporting passengers in 1903. However, its official completion was only announced in 1916 after the opening of the bridge in the Amur River, laying the final link of the grand railway. It celebrated its centenary last October 5, 2016, marking the 100th year of Russia’s engineering triumph and national pride.
3. It crosses eight different time zones.
Russia is the largest country in the world. It’s no surprise that it also has different time zones. Traversing entire Russia, the Trans-Siberian Railway travels through eight time zones. Don’t mind adjusting your watch until you arrive at your final destination!
4. It has three rail routes.
Today, the railway offers three rail routes. The Trans-Siberian allows passengers to travel from Moscow to Vladivostok, while the Trans-Manchurian transports passengers from Siberia to Beijing. Lastly, there’s the Trans-Mongolian line, taking travelers from Moscow to Beijing. The longest line entails seven days of continuous travel. Not to worry, as the sights awaiting you, whichever line you choose, are undoubtedly awe-inspiring.
5. Its construction required 60,000 workers.
The Trans-Siberian’s construction took 25 years. In this period, a total of 60,000 workers were required to finish the project. Most of them are criminals and convicts who obtained reduced sentences for completing work for the government. In addition, soldiers and local laborers also helped to complete the railway at the soonest time possible.
6. Its construction underwent shortcuts.
With the enormous expense required for the project, many cost-cutting measures and shortcuts were made in construction, compromising the quality of the railway. While it did lessen the cost, it resulted in complications and delays when it started running. Today, regular checks and maintenance are still performed to ensure that the trips go as seamlessly as possible.
7. Passengers may leave the train.
Though many tourists and travelers opt to choose the seven-day-long journey to relish the experience fully, you are not required to do it in one go. You may simply travel to a specific destination you like, go off the train, and explore the town or city. Once done, you can ride the next train and go to your next desired location. However, keep in mind that it would mean you need to purchase separate tickets for each leg of your adventure.
8. It passes underground.
Trans-Siberian’s longest tunnel is located at Tarmanchukan. Built in 1915, the tunnel measures 2,030 meters long. Get ready for this one when you travel the railway!
9. There are three carriage classes available.
You can choose between the three carriage classes: 1st class – spalny vagon, 2nd class – kupe, and the 3rd class – platskartny vagon. The first-class offers a spacious and comfy room with two sleeper seats. Meanwhile, the second class has four berths, totaling to 36 people in one carriage. The third and economic class offers basic bunk beds, perfect for budget-minded travelers and tourists.
10. It is the best way to experience Russia.
Crossing 876 stations, 497 bridges, 87 cities, 15 tunnels, 16 grand rivers, plus all the landmarks and natural wonders Russia has to offer, riding the Trans-Siberian Railway is simply the best way to see a lot and experience the country.