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The Trans-Siberian Railway, Russia

Skillful wayfarerSkillful wayfarerSkillful wayfarer Ben Parker
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The Trans-Siberian Railway or Trans-Siberian Railroad (Транссибирская магистраль, Транссиб in Russian, or Transsibirskaya magistral', Transsib), built 1891-1916, is a network of railways connecting European Russia with Russian Far East provinces. At 9,288.2 kilometres (5,787 miles) and spanning 8 time zones, it is the longest railway in the world. The main route is the Trans-Siberian line, which runs from Moscow to Vladivostok, passing through Nizhny Novgorod on the Volga, Perm on the Kama River, Yekaterinburg in the Urals, Omsk on the Irtysh, Novosibirsk on the Ob, Krasnoyarsk on the Yenisei, Irkutsk near Lake Baikal's southern extremity, Chita and then Khabarovsk. (From 1956 to 2001 the trains went via Yaroslavl instead of Nizhny Novgorod). In 2002 the electrification has been completed. Around 30% of Russian exports travel on the line.

A second primary route is the Trans-Manchurian line, which coincides with the Trans-Siberian as far as Tarskaya, a few hundred miles east of Baikal. From Tarskaya the Trans-Manchurian heads southeast into China and makes its way down to Beijing.

The third primary route is the Trans-Mongolian line, which coincides with the Trans-Siberian as far as Ulan Ude on Baikal's eastern shore. From Ulan-Ude the Trans-Mongolian heads south to Ulaan-Baatar before making its way southeast to Beijing. The marker for kilometer 9288, at the end of the line, in Vladivostok

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, this recent extension departs from the Trans-Siberian line several hundred miles west of Lake Baikal and passes the lake at its northernmost extremity. It reaches the Pacific to the northeast of Khabarovsk, at Sovetskaya Gavan (i.e., Soviet Haven, a.k.a. Sovgavan, Sovietgavan and earlier Imperatorskaya Gavan, i.e., Imperial Haven). While this route provides access to Baikal's stunning northern coast, it also passes through some rather forbidding terrain.

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