Yes, it is! The Trans-Siberian journey through the Trans-Siberian Railways is one of the meanest and most exhilarating journeys in the whole wide world. The amazing ride that is not meant for the fragile souls is one of the greatest things on our lovely planet. The pride of Russia, this railways journey is a challenge to all the train lovers, adventure seekers and out of the box people out there. The Trans- Siberian or Transsib starts from Moscow in the European part of Russia and goes on till Vladivostok the eastern most point in the country, in the Asian part of Russia through the great inlands of southern Siberia. It is a journey that lasts for around eight continuous days and traverses two continents before reaching its final destination providing its passengers with great challenges, joys, beautiful landscape, food, interactions and a great sense of achievement.
The rail journey which has today become one of the great engineering marvels of the world was born out of the economic needs to develop and provide connectivity to the poor region of the Siberian hinterland, the rail route though in conception since late 19th century could only see construction work start from February 1891. Construction was started from both the ends, that is, from Moscow as well as Vladivostok with Tsar Nicholas II himself inaugurating the construction at Vladivostok. The idea for creation of a rail network through the Russian hinterland connecting Siberia was proposed by many foreign rail companies to then ruler of Russia Tsar Alexander III but he wanted no foreign intrusion into Russia leave alone Siberia, so the project got delayed. Through the coming decades many ideas were proposed but now work could be started due to lack of agreement until finally in 1886 the Tsar tired of the delays ordered his son, the future Tsar Nicholas II, to complete the task of building the Siberian Rail Route.
So it started one of the greatest tasks in the history of mankind, the building of the Trans Siberian Railways under the watch of the future Tsar. It was a humongous task to build rail tracks through the harsh, extreme geographical landscape of the Siberian region with its high mountains, hundreds of rivers, as many lakes, deep canyons, and forests. Add to all those geographical challenges the extreme weather conditions with temperatures dipping as low as -30 degrees during winters, thick permafrost almost all year round, lack of mobility of goods, lack of labor and the humungous logistics. The waterlogged areas and the permafrost made construction or laying of tracks an extremely difficult but the most difficulty was faced by the workers around the Lake Baikal region. The seventh largest lake in the world and also the most voluminous, Lake Baikal, is the largest storage of non-frozen freshwater on the planet and also has the honor being a UNESCO World Heritage Site but all this didn’t stop it from being a pain for the builders of the Transsib. The region which full of deep gorges and mountainous rivers required the construction of many bridges and tunnels.
Despite these extreme challenges, the construction of the rail network continued at a tremendous pace of 600 km per day which ultimately led to the finishing of work in about twelve years which left the whole world baffled. In such a short span of time and through almost seven and a half thousand kilometers of railroad, Russia was able to connect Europe with the Pacific Ocean making the Trans-Siberian Railways one of the wonders of man’s genius. In the coming decades the railways and the journey as a whole gained enormous prominence and popularity, the Siberian region started to see economic development with the movement of goods which led to development of towns such as Irkutsk and Novosibirsk, many peasant started to migrate to Siberia from Western Russia and Ukraine and in recent decades it has given major boost to Siberian tourism.
The journey gives you over 9000 km of pure bliss taking you through one of the most virgin, pristine and unexploited parts of our planet which is rich in natural beauty, full of rivers, valleys, snow capped hill tops, plush green fields, frozen lands and beautiful country towns. The ride starts from the Yaroslavsky Terminal in Moscow going through the cities of Chelyabinsk, Omsk, Novosibirsk, Lake Baikal, Irkutsk, and Ulan-Ude to Vladivostok. At the time it started the journey from Moscow till Vladivostok was the longest train journey in the world standing at 9,259 km but today with many extensions to the original route the ride is the third longest in the world. The train offers three classes of seating to its passengers first class (SV), second class (Kupe) and third class (Platzkart) with the first class being most luxurious of the three. For people who love trains and the beautiful romance that it brings with itself, the ability to see the whole world through your windows, the pristine nature, the various cities, the boundaries one crosses and everything else the Trans-Siberian Railways is as good as it gets. It’s a treasure which is going to get better with time ultimately helping mankind realize the dream of connecting every part of our beautiful planet.