The Trans-Siberian Railway is a testament to human endeavour and its effort to battle harsh weather conditions to lay the world’s longest railway network in the world. This vast rail network connects Russia’s capital Moscow to its easternmost city, Vladivostok, located on the coast of the East China Sea. Its overall length is 9,289 kilometres and is still expanding to include the far eastern reaches of Russia. Such incredible is the railway network, that it branches into Mongolia, China, and North Korea. Commissioned as a royal project and overseen by Russian ministers appointed by Tsar Alexander III and Tsar Nicholas II, this mammoth engineering project was completed between 1891 to 1916, and forms the key mode of communication and transportation that connects the extreme ends of Russia.
Trans-Siberian Railway – Ultimate Train Journey
The Trans-Siberian Railway network offers you three railway routes – Moscow to Vladivostok, Moscow to Beijing via Mongolia and Moscow to China via Manchuria.
The Moscow to Vladivostok line is generally catered by the train Rossiya. The train number 1 travels westbound, while train number 2 goes eastbound. The complete journey from Moscow to Vladivostok takes 6 nights, and passes through the Russian cities of Vladimir, Nizhny Novgorod, Kirov, Perm, Ekaterinburg, Tyumen, Omsk, Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk, Angarsk, Irkutsk, Baikalsk, Ulan-Ude, Chita, Birobidzhan, Khabarovsk and Vladivostok.
The Trans-Mongolian line is the most coveted travel route out of the three train routes. Train 4 travels eastbound while train 3 goes westbound. The weekly Moscow to Beijing via Mongolia (Train 4) leaves the Russian capital on every Tuesday night, while train 3 leaves the Chinese capital on every Wednesday morning. The journey takes 6 nights and covers an incredible length of 7,621 kilometres.
The Trans-Mongolian Route passes through Siberia, enters Mongolia and winds through the Gobi Desert before entering China. Most of the route in Russia follows the Trans-Siberian line till Ulan-Ude, from where it moves south and passes through the cities of Ulan-Ude, Zaudinskiy, Sayantuy, Zagustay, Gusinoe Ozero, Gusinoe ozero town, Dzhida, Naushki, Sukhbaatar, Darkhan, Ulan-Bataar, Chojr, Dzamin Ude, Erlyan, Datong, and finally reaches Beijing.
The Trans-Manchurian Route is catered by the Vostok. Train number 20 travels eastbound from Moscow and train number 19 travel westbound from Beijing. The Vostok, train 20, leaves Moscow on Saturday nights for Beijing via Manchuria, taking 6 days to cover 8,986 kilometres. Train number 19 leaves Beijing for the Russian capital every Saturday night. The Vostok, stays on the Trans-Siberian line till the city of Chita before turning south.
The Trans-Manchurian Route passes through Chita, Karymskaya, Onon River, Borzya, Zabaikalsk, Manzhouli, Ang’angxi, Harbin, Changchun, Shen’yan, Shanhaiguan, Tianjin and finally reaches Beijing to complete the journey.
Each route has its own merits and charms. The Trans-Siberian Route passes through the vast stretches of South Siberia to reach Vladivostok, the longest continuous train journey on the planet. Along the way it moves through snow covered countryside, cities with grey skies and soviet era buildings to reach Vladivostok.
Trans-Mongolian Route is the most dramatic one. The train runs through the vast Siberian snow covered landscape, enters the desolate and cold Gobi Desert of Mongolia and crosses the Great Wall of China to finally arrive at Beijing.
Trans-Manchurian Route is also very interesting. The train stays on the Trans-Siberian line till the city of Chita. It veers south and enters Manchuria which has some very interesting Chinese cities like Harbin, Shen’yan, Shanhaiguan, Tianjin and Beijing.