On March 9th, 1891, the Imperial Russian government under Tsar Alexander III (1845-1894) issued a rescript in which it announced its intention to construct what became the Trans–Siberian Railway (TSR) under the supervision of ministers personally appointed by the Court.
His eldest son, Tsesarevich Nicholas II (1868-1918) inaugurated the project on May 19th that year. It was finished in 1916, during World War I, with the completion of the Amur River Line north of the Chinese border.
Electrification of the line, which begun in 1929 under Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin (1878-1953) and was completed in 2002 under President Vladimir Putin (born 1952), allows using trains with a weight of up to 6,000 tons.
It’s a network of 9,289 kilometers connecting Moscow with Vladivostok, a port located nowadays in the Far Eastern Federal District, the Russian Federation’s easternmost territory.
At the time Moscow wasn’t the nation’s capital yet, and Vladivostok had been founded only in 1860 as a military outpost after a weak China in 1858 was forced to sign the Treaty of Aigun and transfer over 600,000 square kilometers to its voracious neighbor.
One stop on the longest railway line in the world is Yekaterinburg on the Europe-Asia border, where the last Czar and his whole family as well as members of the household were assassinated by Bolsheviks.
While the Trans-Manchurian Line follows the same route as far as Chita and then continues to Peking via Zabaykalsk, Harbin and Changchun, the Trans-Mongolian Line also follows the same route as far as Ulan Ude and then continues to Peking via Sükhbaatar, Ulaanbaatar and Datong.
There are ambitious plans to connect London and Tokyo via the TSR by building a bridge from the Russian mainland to the country’s largest island, Sakhalin, which since 1973 has been served by a train ferry. Then, a tunnel under the Sea of Japan with a longitude of 40 kilometers would link its southern tip with Wakkanai, on the northern tip of Hokkaido.
The TSR remains the most important transport link within Russia, but is also relevant for its export industry, including container transportation to Europe.
While it gets most of its use from domestic passengers, the TSR attracts many foreign tourists from all over the world as well, which travel from East to West or vice versa in as little as 15 days on an unforgettable trip.