The Trans Siberian Railway is one of the most adventurous and rewarding of all the great train journeys. Few travelers ever step aboard a train along this route, never mind complete the entire journey from St Petersburg across to the Russian Far East provinces and the Pacific Ocean. The Trans Siberian train route spreads more than 5,000 miles across some of the world’s most deserted and interesting landscapes. If you’re lucky enough to experience Trans Siberian Railway travel during your lifetime, you’ll have seen landscapes that many hope to see but never do.
The Trans Siberian Railway was built from 1891 to 1913. The original plans were laid by Tsar Alexander II, while his son Tsar Alexander III oversaw the construction. The Trans Siberian train was even enjoyed by the future Tsar Nicholas II, who in 1891 officially opened the construction of the route from the Far East, during a visit around the world. Trans Siberian Railway travel crosses seven time zones, and takes several days to complete. Only two continuous rail routes in the world are longer than the Trans Siberian Railway.
Today, Trans Siberian tours can be enjoyed for a variety of distances. This route connects St Petersburg to Moscow and then continues eastward to Vladivostok, a Pacific seaport. Some travelers may find the unspoiled expanses of Siberia to be the highlight of this trip, while others will be thrilled by the many bridges and tunnels traversed near Lake Baikal, the world's deepest freshwater lake and about an hour's train ride from Irkutsk. For history enthusiasts, the towns along the route have a dark history, including being the sites of gulags and work camps, that is worth exploring. Trans Siberian Railway travel can be educational as well as entertaining.
The development of the Trans Siberian train solved numerous economic problems for Russia. Prior to the development of the train line, goods had to be transferred over land, and good roads were hard to come by. During the warm part of the year, goods could be transferred via the rivers, but when the water froze, this process came impossible. In 1890, a bridge was completed across the River Ural, and the Trans Siberian Railway entered Asia. The construction provided many jobs, and yet people were doubtful that the route would ever be finished. In 1913, these skeptics were proved wrong.
The effects on trade were substantial upon completion, as goods could now be moved efficiently and quickly. Siberian agriculture provided an abundance of crops for the west. The railway is still used today to ship a great deal of products from the East to Europe. For passengers, reservations on long-distance journeys are mandatory, and they are an affordable way to see a great deal of this vast country. Sleeper cars can help to make the journey all the more comfortable. Private charter trains are also available for visitors who want the experience of traveling along the Trans Siberian Railway, but who don’t want to deal with the traditional ticketing system.