For the second half of the fifth leg of my “Planes, Trains, & Automobiles World Tour”, I took my dad on the Trans-Siberian train all the way across Russia. Many people have asked me how I came up with that idea. Well let me tell you. In the spring I knew I wanted to go to Iceland because last year when I flew home from Norway I had a layover in Iceland and found out I could have stayed for a 7 day layover at no cost. The other part was that I wanted to visit Japan for several weeks (which ended up getting edged out for other adventures this year). I started thinking how could I get from Europe (where I would end up after my Iceland stop) to Japan. Of course I could fly, but I started looking at a map and began wondering if the Trans-Siberian train (TST) still ran. Turns out it does and in my opinion is the second most famous train route after the Orient Express.
The TST is the longest railway in the world at 9288 km and was built between 1891 and 1916 to connect Moscow with Vladivostok on the Pacific Ocean. The TST spans two continents, 16 major rivers, six federal states, almost a hundred cities, and 485 bridges. It opened up natural resources of Siberia to the Russian empire and the TST led a migration into this vast land.
The TST was also to allow Russia to be a power in the Far East and this was first attempted in 1904 during the Russo-Japan War. Unfortunately, since the railway was constructed so quickly (quicker than any in history) it was not smooth and the trains had to go slow the entire route. This caused the Russian troops to get backlogged in route and handed the Japanese an easy victory.
During the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution the TST helped over throw the Tsar by not transporting troops to quail the revolts. It also fostered a separatist movement for Siberia as factions seized various parts of the railway and used it to their advantage. It took the Bolsheviks over three years to regain control of the railway once they had secured power in Moscow.
During WW2 the TST was vital to Russia’s survival from Nazi Germany. At the beginning Hitler’s attacks were merciless and industry and materials had to be evacuated eastward (they also shipped vast amounts of art this way to save it from being captured). Later on when Russia was able to resist the TST continued to supply troops and equipment that eventually over whelmed the Nazi eastern front.
With all this history and my dad’s love for trains (although I have found out this is only his 3rd train ride) I knew this would be a perfect trip for us. If you join me over the next several days I have some storied to tell you about our experiences. If you want you can LIKE me on Facebook, FOLLOW me on Instagram, or SUBSCRIBE to me on YouTube to keep up with all my travels.
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