Passenger Trains and Travel Routes

The best known trains of the Transsib are the "Rossija" (train no. 1), the "Baikal" (train no. 10) and the "Vostok", which all run at least the distance from Moscow, Jaroslav Station, to Irkutsk. The Rossija will go on to Vladivostok, and the Vostok will go to Ulan Ude. The current schedules can also be looked at on this site.
Additionally, there is the so-called "Chinese Train" which runs on the quite attractive route Moscow - Irkutsk - Ulan Bator - Beijing. Riding to Beijing via Zabaikalsk and Harbin (the so-called "Manchurian Train") is also possible. "Shorter" trains, for example between Novosibirsk and Irkutsk, are also running on the Transsib route, and even the suburban trains of large Siberian cities will run several hundred kilometres into the "hinterland". Some trains run once a day, others such as the Chinese one only run once a week. A look at the schedule will help here.

Whoever loves the railway luxuries of past decades will be able to book a ride with all imaginable amenities in one of the special trains on this route during the summer season. On behalf of travel agencies, the "Tsar Gold Express" as well as the restored Orient Express run several times a month and they offer luxurious ambience between Yenissei and Angara.

Of course, the most attractive segments of the route are the passing of the obelisk at the border between Europe and Asia (unfortunately, this usually happens at night), the ride through the Ural, the bridges across the wild Siberian rivers, the seemingly never-ending birch woods in the Siberian lowlands, the ride along the shores of Lake Baikal between Irkutsk and Ulan Ude, the trip - including rail change and 3 diesel locomotives - through Mongolia past yurts and endless steppes (extra transit visa necessary), and the Russian-Chinese border which is probably the most abrupt break between European and Asian culture, language, philosophy, cuisine, economic system, and mentality at a customs clearance rate of 8 to 10 (!) hours.
The journey from Moscow to Irkutsk takes just under 4 days and covers 5113 km, 5 time zones, and about 5.6 million railroad ties. To Vladivostok, it takes just under 8 days and 9113 km are covered.

Here’s a small hint: aside the route you will find the old Transsib route as it was used before the construction of the Angara embankment. It runs from Sludyanka alongside the shores of Lake Baikal to Port Baikal. Here, a train will pass by in irregular intervals, about once a day, crossing tunnels and bridges and always keeping directly to the shores. However, it's also interesting to walk this route - at least part of it - on foot.


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30 Jan 2006

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