On And Off The Trans-Siberian Railway

September 20, 2013

The Trans-Siberian railway is a massive network connecting Moscow with the Far East of Russia. It's 9,289 km long and is easily the longest railway line in the world. There are connecting branch lines into Mongolia, China and North Korea. It has connected Moscow with Vladivostok since 1916, and is still being expanded. Trains connect not just to Siberia’s important cities but also to smaller towns across Russia. 

Trains are widely-used for long distance travel across Russia as the long distances make travelling by road difficult. Platskart (third class) is the most popular choice. These are open carriages of 52 bunks each provided with bedding. Each car is looked after by a conductor. It's a social experience where people share food, tell stories, play cards or chess and share a drink or two in true Russian style. 

Every large city across Russia has a memorial to the fallen soldiers of the Second World War. Each lists the names of the many dead. The fallen are remembered fondly in Russia and it is unusual to come across someone whose family was untouched by the conflict.

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War memorials rival the local orthodox church as the preferred location for wedding photos in Russia. Here, a bride walks with the party across the main square in Khabavorsk, East Russia.

This monument to sportsmen and women stands outside an ice skating rink in Novosibirsk, Central Russia.

A father walks his son down one of the many piers jutting out along the coast at Sochi. Sochi was a tourist resort for the Soviet elite and remains a popular summer destination for Russian tourists. The extensive railway network makes getting to Sochi easy and cheap for Russians in harder to reach places.  

In Chita, Eastern Russia a chandelier hangs from the ceiling of a house which hosted meetings of the Decembrists (a group of revolutionaries exiled after a short-lived uprising against the aristocracy in 1825). Most were themselves members of the aristocracy and were banished to here to Chita at the furthest reaches of the Empire. This museum in particular pays tribute to the wives of the Decembrists who followed their husbands out into exile and did much to improve the culture and academic life of the area. 

Svetlana talks through the problems she is having with her teenage son with a couple of ladies she met on the train just a few hours before. 

Irkutsk is the Siberian city that serves as a jumping-off point for travellers to Lake Baikal.  Baikal is the deepest fresh water lake in the world at 1,700 metres and is a UNESCO world heritage site. 

A disused pier sticks out into the freezing waters of Lake Baikal. In the distance, the far bank of the lake is barely visible.

 

To see photos from another train journey check out the photo essay The Train Journey from Belgrade to Budapest.