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The Trans-Siberian Railway is a network of railways connecting Moscow with the Russian Far East and the Sea of Japan. It is the longest railway in the world. There are also branch lines to China through Mongolia and Manchuria. In March 1891, the future Tsar Nicholas II personally opened and blessed the construction of the Far East segment of the Trans-Siberian Railway during a stop at Vladivostok, after visiting Japan near the end of his journey around the world. Nicholas II made notes in his diary about his anticipation of travelling in the comfort of "The Tsar's Train" across the unspoiled wilderness of Siberia. The Tsar's Train was designed and built in St. Petersburg to serve as the main mobile office of the Tsar and his staff while travelling across Russia.
The main route of the Trans-Siberian originates in St. Petersburg at Moskovsky Vokzal, runs through Moscow, Chelyabinsk, Omsk, Novosibirsk, Irkutsk, Ulan-Ude, Chita and Khabarovsk to Vladivostok via southern Siberia. It was built from 1891 to 1916 under the supervision of government ministers of Russia who were personally appointed by the Tsar Alexander III and by his son, Tsar Nicholas II. The additional Chinese Eastern Railway was constructed as the Russo-Chinese part of the Trans-Siberian Railway, connecting Russia with China and providing a shorter route to Vladivostok and it was operated by a Russian staff and administration based in the city of Harbin.
The Trans-Siberian Railway is often associated with the main transcontinental Russian line that connects hundreds of large and small cities of the European and Asian parts of Russia. At 9,259 kilometres or 5,753 miles in length, spanning a record seven time zones and taking eight days to complete the journey, it is the third-longest single continuous railroad service in the world, after the Moscow–Pyongyang at 10,267 kilometer/6,380 mile and the Kiev–Vladivostok at 11,085 kilometer/6,888 mile long services, both of which also follow the Trans-Siberian for much of their routes.
A second primary route is the Trans-Manchurian, which coincides with the Trans-Siberian as far as Tarskaya - a stop 12 kilometers east of Karymskaya, in Zabaykalsky Krai - about 1,000 km east of Lake Baikal. From Tarskaya the Trans-Manchurian heads southeast, via Harbin and Mudanjiang in China's Northeastern Provinces from where a connection to Beijing is used by one of Moscow–Beijing trains. It then joins with the main route in Ussuriysk just north of Vladivostok. This is the shortest and the oldest railway route to Vladivostok. Some trains split at Shenyang, China, with a portion of the service continuing to Pyongyang, North Korea. It was often on this rail system that Kim Il Yung travelled to Russia in his own special railway cars alledgedly loaded with Russian Vodka and prostitutes.
The third primary route is the Trans-Mongolian Railway, which coincides with the Trans-Siberian as far as Ulan Ude on Lake Baikal's eastern shore. From Ulan-Ude the Trans-Mongolian heads south to Ulaan-Baatar in Mongolia before making its way southeast to Beijing. In 1991, a fourth route running further to the north was finally completed, after more than five decades of sporadic work. Known as the Baikal Amur Mainline (BAM), this recent extension departs from the Trans-Siberian line at Taishet several hundred miles west of Lake Baikal and passes the lake at its northernmost extremity. It crosses the Amur River at Komsomolsk-na-Amure, north of Khabarovsk, and reaches the Pacific at Sovetskaya Gavan.
Return tickets from Central Europe to Vladivostok and back can be as cheap as €250 with so called CityStar or Sparpreis Europa special offers. In addition, a reservation supplement for long-distance trains is mandatory, the prices range between €30 to €60 each way for trains in four-berth sleeper on the Trans-Siberian Railway. Overall, buying tickets for Russian trains in Germany, the Czech Republic or Poland can be cheaper than they are available for in Russia.
In addition to these services, a number of privately-chartered services are operated, and one tour operator even commissioned the construction of their own train, jointly owned by themselves and Russian railways. The train, officially named Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express was launched on the 26th of April 2007 by Prince Michael of Kent. Prince Michael has a strong interest in Russia, and is noted for his remarkable physical resemblance to Tsar Nicholas II, a first cousin of three of his grandparents. He attended the 1998 burial of the Tsar and his family in St. Petersburg. Prince Michael speaks fluent Russian, and travels there frequently. Prince Michael is also an Honorary Member of the Romanov Family Association.
For more information visit: Golden Eagle Luxury Trains.