A Century of Progress in Rail Transport
EUROPE’S MOST POWERFUL GOODS ENGINE. This is the claim made for the large freight engine, seen here on its arrival in Moscow in January, 1935. It was designed for hauling coal trains of 3,000 tons from the Donetz mines to Moscow.
DURING the ten years which followed the war of 1914-
The railway history of Russia began in 1837, but at first development was slow indeed, in proportion to the country’s vast extent. Eighty years later, however, there was a considerable mileage of railway, on account of which the Russian Govern-
At that time, a marked distinction existed between European Russia and Siberia. Persons deemed undesirable by the Government or civil authorities could be banished to Siberia; few people in Russia proper had any enthusiasm for its unbounded but unrealized possibilities. “We have changed all that,” says the modern Russian, not without a certain pride.
European Russia and Asiatic Russia alike provide the units constituting the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics, that vast experiment in civil administration which emerged out of chaos at the end of the war. So henceforward, in this chapter, the name “Russia”, where present-
In Russia to-
Before the war, except for a few special passenger trains, Russian railway travel was more amusing than expeditious. If the passenger were in a hurry, it was not even amusing. Travel was slow; locomotives, vehicles, and equipment frequently verged on the antique, and departmental matters were tied up with red tape. Signalling arrangements were primitive in the extreme. Russia has always favoured the broad (5 ft) gauge for her trunk railways, with a generous construction gauge, and the coaches have thus always been much loftier and more spacious than those in Great Britain. Nevertheless, the pre-
In two successive wars, the Russo-
Great Northern Route
During the revolutionary period, the Russian railways were reduced to a sad condition. With the country in the throes of civil war and incessant commotion, rail communication was reduced to a state of unbelievable confusion. A locomotive in good repair was rare, and usually had a couple of machine-
The first and second Five-
This has yet to be realized, but there is no doubt at all that enormous strides have been made in the development of the existing system. An important step has been the education of the Russian worker to appreciate and to take a pride in his particular industry. This policy naturally applies to the railways as well as to many other things. In the earliest days of the Soviet Union, “propaganda trains” were sent out to teach citizens in remote areas the ways and ideals of the communist system.
In recent years these have tended to teach more about Russian industries, now that communism in Russia is an accepted fact. School cars are included for the instruction of children living in the remotest places served by the railway, while bookshops and other amenities are included for older persons.
A great deal remains to be done to bring the Russian railway system up to date, but a great deal has been done already. Under the Imperialist rule, the principal lines were under the authority of the Russian State Railways. To-
Immense tracts of fertile country and potentially rich industrial districts remain completely untapped, so, while in Great Britain, Belgium, Germany and France, there is little future for the extension of the existing railway systems, in Russia these conditions do not apply. The “Great Northern Route” is only one of many impressive possibilities. Russia to-
The railway system to-
A particularly interesting division is that known as the Murmansk, for this penetrates far beyond the Arctic Circle to the ice-
Leaving the main line eastwards out of Leningrad, it strikes up past the eastern shores of the vast Lake Ladoga, the greatest sheet of fresh water in Europe, and after entering Karelia, reaches Petrozavodsk on Lake Onega. It crosses an arm of this lake to the north of Petrozavodsk and bears northwards, through wild country, into the basin of the River Vyg, serving the town of Soroka near the mouth.
The western shores of the White Sea are now skirted, and the Arctic Circle is crossed near the Gulf of Kandalaksha. Leaving this last arm of the White Sea, the line crosses the neck of the Kola peninsula, and reaches the desolation of the far northern tundra country. Murmansk is finally reached on the shores of the Arctic Ocean, the only railway terminus with such a situation.
Roughly parallel to the Murmansk line, though not attaining such a northerly latitude, is the shorter Archangelsk line, which runs due north from Vologda on the main line connecting Leningrad with the through trans-
72,000 MILES OF RAILWAY in Russia are now under the control of the People’s Commissariat for Transport. The chief gauge is
5 ft. The system is separated into twenty-
Of the Moscow-
The story reports that he called for a map, took a ruler, and drew a straight line between Moscow and what was then St. Petersburg, with the words: “Build it like that!” The line was certainly built near enough to this plan to give grounds for the story, and north of Bologoe, where it crosses the east-
Reference to Imperial Russia reminds us that, when the Tsar travelled, elaborate precautions were taken to ensure his safety. It is characteristic of the Russian railways in the old days that in spite of this, a serious accident once befell the imperial train, and it was due, not to a revolutionary’s bomb, but to the bad state of the permanent way.
This was at Borki, in the south of Russia, in October, 1888. Four coaches were pitched down an embankment, and twenty-
Undoubtedly the most famous of all the existing Russian lines is the Trans-
The line, as completed, provides a through route from Central Siberia right down through the wilds of Central Asia to Bokhara and Samarkand in the heart of Russian Turkestan. The traveller over this wonderful line, as he goes southwards, finds the skyline of the monotonous steppes being replaced by the distant mountains of the Tibetan frontier country. Samarkand itself, though its name sounds, perhaps, rather romantic, is a squalid clash between the East and the West.
On the one side are seen the destructive activities of political agitators, and on the other the Meuzzin calling the faithful to prayer. Workers’ flats jostle with mosques in various stages of disrepair, and a short walk can be taken from a Soviet cultural centre to the tomb of the great Mongolian king Tamerlane, who once bid fair to conquer the world. It is not, perhaps, rash to forecast great developments in north-
In their day the Russian railways must have seen practically every known type of locomotive. Although the country evolved definite national characteristics in the matter of locomotive design, Russia was an early purchaser of engines from foreign countries, including many from British builders. At one time the Glasgow firm of Sharp, Stewart & Co. built large numbers of eight-
For the Transcaucasian lines around Baku, many of Fairlie’s patent double articulated locomotives were built at one time. These burnt crude petroleum, and as the fuel tanks were mounted on top of the boilers, the engines, with their central cabs and chimneys at either end, presented an odd appearance. They were subsequently superseded by standard eight-
The latest type of Russian express passenger locomotive is represented by the “Joseph Stalin”, named after the General Secretary of the Communist Party. She is an enormous machine with the 2-
The modern standard passenger locomotive for general service is the handsome 2-
Both Russia’s standard express passenger classes thus lack the leading bogie which, to-
FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS are foreshadowed by this electric train which runs along on balls instead of wheels. This novel device was the idea of a young Soviet inventor. Experiments are reported to have given satisfactory results. The picture shows the experimental track.
The true giants among Russian loco-
Succeeding examples of these classes have been built in Russia, but a new type of Russian goods engine is even bigger, for this locomotive has the hitherto unknown 4-
In 1933 a rival to this huge fourteen-
When the engine was completed it was, naturally, too big for transport by rail in England, even had the rail-
The weight of the engine in working order is 255 tons. Comparing this with the two American-
To guard against the intense cold of the Russian winter, all the external steam-
A front view of the “Joseph Stalin”, a new 2-
Turning to Russian passenger coaches, some much improved cars have recently been put into service on the Trans-
A feature of travel in the Russian “hard class” is the hiring of mattresses and bedclothes. The latter are brought to the passenger in a sealed bag, which is opened in his presence.
Russia has never been a country of great railway speeds. Trains are few and far between except in the isolated areas having a high population, and thus many towns have to be served by one train. The “October Express”, one of the best trains in Russia, covers the level 404½ miles from Moscow to Leningrad in exactly ten hours, calling at Tver and Bologoe.
The distance is practically the same as that from London to Edinburgh. The journey from Kiev to Odessa, 406 miles, occupies about fifteen hours, with stops at various places on the way. On this line, as well as on the October Railway, all the best trains run at night. From Moscow to Sevastopol, a distance of 954 miles, the journey time averages about thirty-
ARRIVAL IN MOSCOW. Travellers on a Moscow platform looking at a poster advertising a new railway hotel. This hotel is specially planned for passengers stopping only a night or so in the city. It can accommodate 155 people, but only ticket-
Electric railways are quite new to Russia, which had none before 1926. In that year, a beginning was made in the industrial area of Baku, with the 1,500-
Electrification in Russia
The Baku electrification is purely suburban, and covers the Baku-
Since the initial electrification of 1926, great extensions have been made in other parts of the Soviet Union, notably in the Moscow and Leningrad suburban areas, in the south, and in the industrial area of the Urals. Altogether nearly 300 miles are now electrically operated. For heavy traffic some fine twelve-
The Moscow Underground Railway, or the “Metro”, as it is called, is fully described in the chapter beginning on page 894; but a few notes on this latest of underground railways may not be out of place here. The line is part of a separate scheme which owes its execution largely to the enterprise of L. M. Kaganovitch, the leading sponsor of advanced city transport in the Soviet Union. Its construction was sanctioned in 1931, the initial section being nearly eight miles long. Trains started running before the official opening, and guest passengers, including M. Stalin and Mr. Anthony Eden, made journeys on the railway.
In conclusion, it may be said that the railways have a very great future, not only in technical and scientific development, but also in the matter of extension, in the vast territories of Russia known to-
ON THE MOSCOW-
[From part 32, published 6 September 1935]