Standing for more than 100 years, the Trans-Siberian Railway is vital for Russian transportation and industry. The trains traveling on the route carry a sizeable portion of Russia’s exports, meaning it’s a crucial supply line for the local economy. It’s also one of the best ways—if not the best way—to see Russia for foreign travelers.
Although many travelers are drawn to the Trans-Siberian each year, it is also a popular method of travel for Russian locals needing to get across the country. With its unique history and enduring legacy, the Trans-Siberian has definitely caught our interest! Keep reading to find out 10 facts about it.
10 It Is The Longest Train Journey In The World
If you want to say that you have taken the longest train journey in the world, then you’ll need to ride on the Trans-Siberian Railway. Running from the Yaroslavsky Terminal in Moscow, Russia, the railway runs all the way to the coastal city of Vladivostok.
Along the way, there are 64 stops. The railway passes through a total of 87 cities and towns and crosses over 16 rivers. One of the tunnels on the route is over a mile long. Overall, the railway is longer than the Great Wall of China.
9 It Travels Through Eight Different Time Zones
Geographically speaking, Russia is the world’s largest country. So you might have guessed that there is more than one time-zone in the colossal nation. Since the Trans-Siberian Railway travels right across Russia, it comes as no surprise that it crosses eight different time zones. When you’re a passenger riding on this route, it’s best to avoid setting your watch until after you arrive at your final destination!
It’s always a good idea to be aware of the time differences when planning your journey on the railway. It’s easy to be caught out and miss the train because you got confused between the different time-zones.
8 A Famous Ballet Dancer Was Born On The Railway
Russia is famous for its ballet, gifting both spectacular productions and successful professional ballerinas to the world. Therefore, if a ballet dancer was going to be born on any railway, it would have to be the Trans-Siberian!
Rudolf Nureyev was born upon the Trans-Siberian express in 1938 when his mother, Farida, was traveling to see his father in Vladivostok. He went on to become one of the world’s most famous Soviet dancers and choreographers. Some even believe that Nureyev was the greatest male ballet dancer of his entire generation.
7 There Are Three Rail Routes On The Railway
Today the railway comprises three different rail routes, allowing passengers to travel across Russia, Mongolia, and China. In addition to the Trans-Siberian, which runs from Moscow to Vladivostok, there is also the Trans-Mongolian and the Trans-Manchurian lines.
The Trans-Mongolian allows passengers to travel from Moscow to Beijing, while the Trans-Manchurian takes travelers from Siberia to Beijing. The longest possible train journey requires seven days of continuous travel, but the sights you’d see through your window would be absolutely breathtaking!
6 The Railway Was Installed Under The Romanov Dynasty
The Trans-Siberian Railway has been standing for more than a century and is one of the remaining legacies of the Romanov Dynasty. The last family to rule Imperial Russia, the Romanovs oversaw the construction of the railway, which was personally supervised by Tsar Alexander III and Prince Nikolai.
The prince was given the role of heading the construction so he could gain experience that would help him rule over Russia when he ascended to the throne. He later became Tsar Nicholas II, the last Tsar of Russia before the Revolution.
5 It Took 60,000 Workers To Complete
The longest railway in the world, the Trans-Siberian certainly didn’t go up overnight. It actually took 25 years to complete the project, with construction lasting from 1891 until 1916. The railway was funded by state money as the Tsar wanted to ensure that Russia had ownership over what would become an incredibly important supply line.
To build the railway, 60,000 workers were enlisted. The majority of them were convicts and soldiers, who earned time off their sentences by completing the work for the government. Local laborers also brought their skills to ensure the railway was constructed as soon as possible.
4 There Were Lots Of Delays Once It Started Running
The construction of the railway ended up being a strenuous burden on the Russian government. To cut as many costs as possible, the quality of construction was compromised and shortcuts were taken. Although this did cut costs and result in faster completion of the railway, it also meant that there were delays once it did start running.
In the early days, the railway suffered from many complications which took time and money to sort out. To this day, the tracks still undergo regular maintenance checks to make sure they run smoothly.
3 Passengers Are Allowed To Leave The Trains
Even though traveling on the Trans-Siberian Railway is often a long journey, it’s not necessary to do it all in one go. Passengers often only travel to a particular destination along the way and then leave the train, or they might stop in a couple of towns and cities as they slowly make their way around Russia. If you don't want to, you never have to stay on the train for seven days straight.
Of course, many people choose to travel the Trans-Siberian Railway purely to experience the long train journey.
2 Carriages Come In Three Classes
For those traveling on the Trans-Siberian Railway, there is the option of staying in three classes. The carriages on most of the trains frequenting the line offer first class, second class, and third class experiences. Although it can be costly, first might be the way to go if you plan on staying on the train for most of the journey without stopping.
The third class offers bunk beds instead of fold-out sleeper seats, but it might be an option for those looking for budget travel ideas. Otherwise, the second class offers a combination of the first class's luxury and the economic benefits of the third class.
1 It Is Often Regarded As The Best Way To See Russia
If you’re traveling to Russia, keep the Trans-Siberian Railway in mind as it’s often regarded as the single best way to see Russia. Traveling past so many cities and towns and making so many stops along the way, it’s a great option if you’re interested in seeing a lot of the country.
56th Parallel also points out that many of the train stations that you’ll stop in are stunning, and unless you were traveling on the railway, you wouldn’t have the chance to experience them. The Trans-Siberian is convenient and easy, and often takes you past landmarks that you’d go out of your way to visit anyway!