The Trans-Siberian Railway from Moscow to Vladivostok is the longest railway line in the world. A ride on the legendary train brings you closer to the wild and romantic Russian taiga.
The Trans-Siberian Railway is the longest continuous railway line in the world. As Russia's main transport axis, it runs from the Russian capital Moscow to Vladivostok in southwest Russia on the Sea of Japan and on across the Chinese border to Pyongyang and Beijing. The famous railway line is one of our top 10 sights of Russia.
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Challenging construction of the Trans-Siberian Railway
The symbolic ground-breaking ceremony for the construction of the huge line took place in May 1891. It was hoped that the construction of the railway connection would lead to an economic upswing in Russia and further exports of grain or a lucrative transport connection from China to Europe. Due to the enormous length of the line, the laying of the rails was started at several places at the same time.
The construction turned out to be extremely difficult. This was due to the low temperatures of up to -50°C, which caused the ground to freeze until June, as well as the impassable terrain. On the Baikal route, 200 bridges and 30 tunnels had to be built over a distance of only 260 kilometres. 900,000 workers were involved in the construction. Due to inadequate medical care, lack of sanitary facilities, the freezing cold and accidents, tens of thousands did not survive the construction project.
For cost reasons, the quality of the material was set at the lower limit of what was justifiable, which led to several derailments around 1900 after thaws. In 1916, the construction of the Transsib was officially completed with the inauguration of the Amur Bridge. The economic upswing actually took place in the next 15 years and the number of immigrants in Siberia also increased significantly.
Routing of the Transsib
The route covered by the Trans-Siberian Railway is 9,288 kilometres long. On its way from Moscow to Vladivostok, it stops at more than 80 stations, passes over 400 railway stations and crosses 16 major rivers.
There are also 89 Russian cities along the route, including Novgorod, Yekaterinburg, Omsa, Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk, Ulan-Ude, Chita and Khabarovsk. The picturesque shores of Lake Baikal and Amur Bay in the Sea of Japan also accompany the Trans-Siberian Railway for 207 and 39 kilometres respectively.
Routes to China, North Korea and Mongolia also branch off from the Trans-Siberian. In Taishet, the Trans-Siberian Railway crosses the Baikal-Amur Mainline (BAM), which runs almost parallel but a little further north. It was built for military reasons, as the Transsib route is too close to the Chinese border. The Trans-Siberian Railway is operated by the Russian railway company RZD with over one million employees.
Tip: Some trains only run weekly or every other day and are quickly fully booked. Therefore, once the journey is planned, it is recommended to book as soon as possible. To make travel planning as simple as possible, it is best to start with the day of arrival at the place of arrival and plan backwards.
On the road with the Transsib
Every second day, a train sets off from Yaroslav railway station on its journey from Moscow to Vladivostok. The carriages are all equipped with couches. There are two-berth, four-berth or open-plan compartments with 52 berths. Seats are only available during the day on the short trains that run between the individual Russian cities, for example from Omsk to Novosibirsk.
The current route of the Trans-Siberian Railway has been in operation since the 1930s and is characterised by wildly romantic landscapes and unique cities. For the most part, the Russian taiga passes by the sliding windows of the wagons. At kilometre 1,777 to Moscow in the middle of the Urals, an obelisk marks the continental border between Europe and Asia.
The arrival in Vladivostok from Moscow takes place after 144 hours of travel time, which is exactly 6 days. In between, there are frequent breaks to check the trains on their multi-day journey and to replace the locomotives, which is necessary simply because of the different power systems.
Tip: There are no connecting tickets in Russia, so in principle a new journey begins after each interruption, which makes the interrupted tickets up to 61% more expensive. If possible, it is best to book the through train.