Транссибирская магистраль

( Trans-Siberian Railway )

The Trans-Siberian Railway, historically known as the Great Siberian Route and often shortened to Transsib, is a large railway system that connects European Russia to the Russian Far East. Spanning a length of over 9,289 kilometers (5,772 miles), it is the longest railway line in the world. It runs from the city of Moscow in the west to the city of Vladivostok in the east.

During the period of the Russian Empire, government ministers—personally appointed by Alexander III and his son Nicholas II—supervised the building of the railway network between 1891 and 1916. Even before its completion, the line attracted travelers who documented their experiences. Since 1916, the Trans-Siberian Railway has directly connected Moscow with Vladivostok. As of 2021, expansion projects remain underway, with connections being built to Russia's neighbors (namely Mongolia, China, and North Korea). Additionally, there have been proposals and talk...Read more

The Trans-Siberian Railway, historically known as the Great Siberian Route and often shortened to Transsib, is a large railway system that connects European Russia to the Russian Far East. Spanning a length of over 9,289 kilometers (5,772 miles), it is the longest railway line in the world. It runs from the city of Moscow in the west to the city of Vladivostok in the east.

During the period of the Russian Empire, government ministers—personally appointed by Alexander III and his son Nicholas II—supervised the building of the railway network between 1891 and 1916. Even before its completion, the line attracted travelers who documented their experiences. Since 1916, the Trans-Siberian Railway has directly connected Moscow with Vladivostok. As of 2021, expansion projects remain underway, with connections being built to Russia's neighbors (namely Mongolia, China, and North Korea). Additionally, there have been proposals and talks to expand the network to Tokyo, Japan, with new bridges or tunnels that would connect the mainland railway through the Russian island of Sakhalin and the Japanese island of Hokkaido.

Demand and design

In the late 19th century, the development of Siberia was hampered by poor transport links within the region and the rest of the country. Aside from the Great Siberian Route, roads suitable for wheeled transport were rare. For about five months of the year, rivers were the main means of transport. During winter, cargo and passengers traveled by horse-drawn sledges over the winter roads, many of which were the same rivers but frozen.[1]

The first steamboat on the River Ob, Nikita Myasnikov's Osnova, was launched in 1844. However early innovation had proven to be difficult, and it was not until 1857 that steamboat shipping had begun major development on the Ob system. Steamboats began operation on the Yenisei in 1863, and on the Lena and Amur in the 1870s. While the comparative flatness of Western Siberia was served by good river systems, the major river systems Ob–Irtysh–Tobol–Chulym of Eastern Siberia had difficulties. The Yenisei, the upper course of the Angara River below Bratsk which was not easily navigable because of the rapids, and the Lena, were mostly navigable only in the north–south direction, making west–east transportation difficult. An attempt to partially remedy the situation by building the Ob–Yenisei Canal had not yielded great success. These issues in the region created the need for a railway to be constructed.[2]

The first railway projects in Siberia emerged after the completion of the Saint Petersburg–Moscow Railway in 1851.[3] One of the first was the Irkutsk–Chita project, proposed by the American entrepreneur Perry Collins and supported by Transport Minister Constantine Possiet with a view toward connecting Moscow to the Amur River, and consequently the Pacific Ocean. Siberia's governor, Nikolay Muravyov-Amursky, was anxious to advance Russian colonization of the now Russian Far East, but his plans were unfeasible due to colonists importing grain and food from China and Korea.[4] It was on Muravyov's initiative that surveys for a railway in the Khabarovsk region were conducted.

Before 1880, the central government had virtually ignored these projects, due to weaknesses in Siberian enterprises, an inefficient bureaucracy, and financial risk. By 1880, there was a large number of rejected and upcoming applications for permission to construct railways in order to connect Siberia with the Pacific, but not Eastern Russia. This worried the government and made connecting Siberia with Central Russia a pressing concern. The design process lasted 10 years. Along with the actual route constructed, alternative projects were proposed:

Southern route: via Kazakhstan, Barnaul, Abakan and Mongolia. Northern route: via Tyumen, Tobolsk, Tomsk, Yeniseysk and the modern Baikal Amur Mainline or even through Yakutsk.

The line was divided into seven sections, most or all of which was simultaneously worked on by 62,000 workers. With financial support provided by leading European financier, Baron Henri Hottinguer of the Parisian bankers Hottinger & Cie, the total cost estimated at £35 million was raised with the first section (Chelyabinsk to the River Ob) and finished at a cost of £900,000 lower than anticipated.[5] Railwaymen argued against suggestions to save funds, such as installing ferryboats instead of bridges over the rivers until traffic increased.

Unlike the rejected private projects that intended to connect the existing cities that required transport, the Trans-Siberian did not have such a priority. Thus, to save money and avoid clashes with land owners, it was decided to lay the railway outside the existing cities. However, due to the swampy banks of the Ob River near Tomsk, (The largest settlement at the time), the idea to construct a bridge was rejected.

The railway was laid 70 km (43 mi) to the south (instead crossing the Ob at Novonikolaevsk, later renamed Novosibirsk); a dead-end branch line connected with Tomsk, depriving the city of the prospective transit railway traffic and trade.[2]

Construction  Clearing on the right-of-way of the Eastern Siberian Railway, 1895 Construction work being performed by convicts on the Eastern Siberian Railway near Khabarovsk, 1895

On 9 March 1891, the Russian government issued an imperial rescript in which it announced its intention to construct a railway across Siberia.[6] Tsarevich Nicholas (later Tsar Nicholas II) inaugurated the construction of the railway in Vladivostok on 19 May that year.[7]

Lake Baikal is more than 640 kilometers (400 miles) long and more than 1,600 meters (5,200 feet) deep. Until the Circum-Baikal Railway was built the line ended on either side of the lake. The ice-breaking train ferry SS Baikal built in 1897 and smaller ferry SS Angara built in about 1900 made the four-hour crossing to link the two railheads.[8][9]

The Russian admiral and explorer Stepan Makarov (1849–1904) designed Baikal and Angara but they were built in Newcastle upon Tyne, by Armstrong Whitworth. They were "knock down" vessels; that is, each ship was bolted together in the United Kingdom, every part of the ship was marked with a number, the ship was disassembled into many hundreds of parts and transported in kit form to Listvyanka where a shipyard was built especially to reassemble them.[9] Their boilers, engines and some other components were built in Saint Petersburg[9] and transported to Listvyanka to be installed. Baikal had 15 boilers, four funnels, and was 64 meters (210 ft) long. it could carry 24 railway coaches and one locomotive on the middle deck. Angara was smaller, with two funnels.[8][9]

Completion of the Circum-Baikal Railway in 1904 bypassed the ferries, but from time to time the Circum-Baikal Railway suffered from derailments or rockfalls so both ships were held in reserve until 1916. Baikal was burnt out and destroyed in the Russian Civil War[8][9] but Angara survives. It has been restored and is permanently moored at Irkutsk where it serves as an office and a museum.[8]

In winter, sleighs were used to move passengers and cargo from one side of the lake to the other until the completion of the Lake Baikal spur along the southern edge of the lake. With the Amur River Line north of the Chinese border being completed in 1916, there was a continuous railway from Petrograd to Vladivostok that, to this day, is the world's second longest railway line. Electrification of the line, begun in 1929 and completed in 2002, allowed a doubling of train weights to 6,000 metric tons (5,900 long tons; 6,600 short tons). There were expectations upon electrification that it would increase rail traffic on the line by 40 percent.[10]

Effects  Siberian peasants watching a train at a station, 1902

Siberian agriculture began to send cheap grain westwards beginning around 1869.[citation needed] Agriculture in Central Russia was still under economic pressure after the end of serfdom, which was formally abolished in 1861. To defend the central territory and prevent possible social destabilization, the Tsarist government introduced the Chelyabinsk tariff-break (Челябинский тарифный перелом) in 1896, a tariff barrier for grain passing through Chelyabinsk, and a similar barrier in Manchuria. This measure changed the nature of export: mills emerged to produce bread from grain in Altai Krai, Novosibirsk and Tomsk, and many farms switched to corn (maize) production.

The railway immediately filled to capacity with local traffic, mostly wheat. From 1896 until 1913 Siberia exported on average 501,932 metric tons (494,005 long tons; 553,285 short tons) (30,643,000 pood) of grain and flour annually.[11] During the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–1905, military traffic to the east disrupted the flow of civil freight.

The Trans-Siberian Railway brought with it millions of peasant-migrants from the Western regions of Russia and Ukraine.[12] Between 1906 and 1914, the peak migration years, about 4 million peasants arrived in Siberia.[13]

Historian Christian Wolmar argues that the railroad was a failure, because it was built for narrow political reasons, with poor supervision and planning. The costs were vastly exaggerated to enrich greedy bureaucrats. The planners hoped it would stimulate settlement, but the Siberian lands were too infertile and cold and distant. There was little settlement beyond 30 miles from the line. The fragile system could not handle the heavy traffic demanded in wartime, so the Japanese in 1904 knew they were safe in their war with Russia. Wolmar concludes:

The railway, which was single track throughout, with the occasional passing loop, had, unsurprisingly, been built to a deficient standard in virtually every way. The permanent way was flimsy, with lightweight rails that broke easily, insufficient ballast, and railroad ties often carved from green wood that rotted in the first year of use. The small bridges were made of soft pine and rotted easily. The embankments were too shallow and narrow, often just 10 ft wide instead of the 16 ft prescribed in the design, and easily washed away. There were vicious gradients and narrow curves that wore out the fringe flanges on the wheels of the rolling stock after as little as six weeks use.[14]

War and revolution  Trans-Siberian Railway, c. 1904

In the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905), the strategic importance and limitations of the Trans-Siberian Railway contributed to Russia's defeat in the war. As the line was single track, transit was slower as trains had to wait in crossing sidings for opposing trains to cross. This limited the capacity of the line and increased transit times. A troop train or a train carrying injured personnel traveling from east to west would delay the arrival of troops or supplies and ammunition in a train traveling from west to east. The supply difficulties meant the Russian forces had limited troops and supplies while Japanese forces with shorter lines of communication were able to attack and advance.

After the Russian Revolution of 1917, the railway served as the vital line of communication for the Czechoslovak Legion and the allied armies that landed troops at Vladivostok during the Siberian Intervention of the Russian Civil War. These forces supported the White Russian government of Admiral Alexander Kolchak, based in Omsk, and White Russian soldiers fighting the Bolsheviks on the Ural front. The intervention was weakened, and ultimately defeated, by partisan fighters who blew up bridges and sections of track, particularly in the volatile region between Krasnoyarsk and Chita.[15]

There was traveling the leader of legions politician Milan Rastislav Stefanik[16] from Moscow to Vladivostok in March and August 1918, on his journey to Japan and United States of America.[17] The Trans-Siberian Railway also played a very direct role during parts of Russia's history, with the Czechoslovak Legion using heavily armed and armored trains to control large amounts of the railway (and of Russia itself) during the Russian Civil War at the end of World War I.[18] As one of the few fighting forces left in the aftermath of the imperial collapse, and before the Red Army took control, the Czechs and Slovaks were able to use their organization and the resources of the railway to establish a temporary zone of control before eventually continuing onwards towards Vladivostok, from where they emigrated back to Czechoslovakia.

World War II

During World War II, the Trans-Siberian Railway played an important role in the supply of the powers fighting in Europe. In 1939–1941 it was a source of rubber for Germany thanks to the USSR-Germany pact. While Germany's merchant shipping was shut down, the Trans-Siberian Railway (along with its Trans-Manchurian branch) served as the essential link between Germany and Japan, especially for rubber. By March 1941, 300 metric tons (300 long tons; 330 short tons) of this material would, on average, traverse the Trans-Siberian Railway every day on its way to Germany.[19]

At the same time, a number of Jews and anti-Nazis used the Trans-Siberian Railway to escape Europe, including the mathematician Kurt Gödel and Betty Ehrlich Löwenstein, mother of British actor, director and producer Heinz Bernard.[20] Several thousand Jewish refugees were able to make this trip thanks to the Curaçao visas issued by the Dutch consul Jan Zwartendijk[21] and the Japanese visas issued by the Japanese consul, Chiune Sugihara, in Kaunas, Lithuania. Typically, they took the TSR to Vladivostok, then by ship to US. Until June 1941, pro-Nazi ethnic Germans from the Americas used the TSR to go to Germany.[22]

The situation reversed after 22 June 1941. By invading the Soviet Union, Germany cut off its only reliable trade route to Japan. Instead, it had to use fast merchant ships and later large oceanic submarines to evade the Allied blockade. On the other hand, the USSR received Lend-Lease supplies from the US. Even after Japan went to war with the US, despite German complaints, Japan usually allowed Soviet ships to sail between the US and Vladivostok unmolested.[23] As a result, the Pacific Route – via northern Pacific Ocean and the TSR – became the safest connection between the US and the USSR.[citation needed]

Accordingly, it accounted for as much freight as the North Atlantic–Arctic and Iranian routes combined, though cargoes were limited to raw materials and non-military goods. From 1941 to 1942 the TSR also played an important role in relocating Soviet industries from European Russia to Siberia in the face of the German invasion. The TSR also transported Soviet troops west from the Far East to take part in the Soviet counter-offensive in December 1941.

In 1944–45 the TSR was used to prepare for the Soviet–Japanese War of August 1945; see Pacific Route. When an Anglo-American delegation visited Moscow in October 1944 to discuss the Soviet Union joining the war against Japan, Alanbrooke was told by General Antonov and Stalin himself that the line capacity was 36 pairs of trains per day, but only 26 could be counted on for military traffic; see Pacific Route. The capacity of each train was from 600 to 700 tons.[24]

Although the Japanese estimated that an attack was not likely before Spring 1946, Stavka had planned for a mid-August 1945 offensive, and had concealed the buildup of a force of 90 divisions; many had crossed Siberia in their vehicles to avoid straining the rail link.[25]

^ P. E. Garbutt, "The Trans-Siberian Railway." Journal of Transport History 4 (1954): 238-249. ^ a b Cite error: The named reference britannica was invoked but never defined (see the help page). ^ Alexeev, V.V.; Bandman, M.K.; Kuleshov–Novosibirsk, V. V., eds. (2002). Problem Regions of Resource Type: Economical Integration of European North-East, Ural and Siberia. IEIE. ISBN 5-89665-060-4. ^ March, G. Patrick (1996). Eastern Destiny: Russia in Asia and the North Pacific. Praeger/Greenwood. pp. 152–53. ISBN 0-275-95648-2. ^ "The Great Siberian Iron Road", The Daily News (London), 30 December 1896, p. 7. ^ Davis, Clarence B.; Wilburn, Kenneth E. Jr; Robinson, Ronald E. (1991). "Russia, the Soviet Union, and the Chinese Eastern Railway". Railway Imperialism. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. p. 140. ISBN 978-0313259661. Archived from the original on April 6, 2020. ^ Pleshakov, Constantine (2002). The Tsar's Last Armada: The Epic Journey to the Battle of Tsushima. New York: Basic Books. p. 10. ISBN 0465057926. Archived from the original on June 3, 2019. ^ a b c d "Irkutsk: Ice-Breaker "Angara"". Lake Baikal Travel Company. Archived from the original on September 24, 2011. Retrieved September 15, 2011. ^ a b c d e Babanine, Fedor (2003). "Circumbaikal Railway". Lake Baikal Homepage. Fedor Babanine. Retrieved September 15, 2011. ^ "Russia's legendary Trans-Siberian railroad line completely electrified". Associated Press. December 25, 2002. Archived from the original on September 4, 2015. Retrieved June 14, 2015 – via HighBeam Research. ^ Храмков, А. А. (2001). "Железнодорожные перевозки хлеба из Сибири в западном направлении в конце XIX – начале XX вв" [Railroad transportation of bread from Siberia westwards in the late 19th–early 20th centuries]. Предприниматели и предпринимательство в Сибири. Вып.3 [Entrepreneurs and business undertakings in Siberia. 3rd issue]. Barnaul: Изд-во АГУ. ISBN 5-7904-0195-3. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved July 1, 2006. ^ Subtelny, Orest (2000). Ukraine: a history. University of Toronto Press. p. 262. ISBN 0-8020-8390-0. ^ Dronin, N. M.; Bellinger, E. G. (2005). Climate dependence and food problems in Russia, 1900–1990: the interaction of climate and agricultural policy and their effect on food problems. Central European University Press. p. 38. ISBN 963-7326-10-3. ^ Christian Wolmar, Blood, iron, and gold: How the railroads transformed the world (Public Affairs, 2011), pp 169–70. ^ Isitt, Benjamin (2006). "Mutiny from Victoria to Vladivostok, December 1918". Canadian Historical Review. 87 (2): 223–64. doi:10.3138/chr/87.2.223. Retrieved October 3, 2016. ^ Kšiňan, Michal (2021). Milan Rastislav Štefánik – Muž, ktorý sa rozprával s hviezdami. Slovart. ISBN 9788055639048. ^ Preclík, Vratislav. Masaryk a legie (Masaryk and legions), váz. kniha, 219 str., vydalo nakladatelství Paris Karviná, Žižkova 2379 (734 01 Karviná) ve spolupráci s Masarykovým demokratickým hnutím (Masaryk Democratic Movement, Prague), 2019, ISBN 978-80-87173-47-3, pp. 38–50, 52–102, 104–22, 124–28, 140–48, 184–90 ^ Willmott, H.P. (2003). First World War. Dorling Kindersley. p. 251.[ISBN missing] ^ Martin, Bernd (1969), Deutschland und Japan Im Zweiten Weltkrieg, Musterschmidt Verlag, p. 155 ^ Lowenstein, Jonathan (April 26, 2010). "The Journey of a Lifetime: my grandmother's escape on the Trans-Siberian railway". Telaviv1. ^ "Jan Zwartendijk. – Collections Search – United States Holocaust Memorial Museum". ^ "German Intelligence Activities in China during WW I." United States War Department Strategic Services Unit, March 1, 1946 ^ Martin 1969, p. 174 ^ Alanbrooke, Field Marshal Lord (2001). War Diaries 1939–1945. Phoenix Press. pp. 607, 608. ISBN 1-84212-526-5. ^ Glantz, David M. (1995). When Titans Clashed: How the Red Army Stopped Hitler. Kansas: University Press of Kansas. p. 278. ISBN 0-7006-0899-0.
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