#1: World Record Holder: It’s Not What You Think
Contrary to popular belief, a train journey on the Trans-Siberian Railroad is NOT the longest in the world. That distinction goes to the 13,000-kilometer-long Yiwu–Madrid freight train journey.
However, the Trans-Siberian Railroad IS the longest passenger train journey in the world, covering a total distance of 9,288 kilometers from Moscow to Vladivostok.
Two journeys are technically longer; Kiev–Vladivostok (11,085 k) and Pyongyang–Moscow (10,267 k), but these train journeys travel on the Trans-Siberian Railroad for much of their route.
#2: It’s Siberia. It Gets Cold
The average winter temperature in Siberia is -25 degrees Celsius, but your private train compartment on the Trans-Siberian Railroad is always warm.
The coldest part of the Trans-Siberian Railroad is found between the Mogocha and Skovorodino stations, where temperatures can go as low as -62!
#3: The Trans-Siberian Is More than It Seems
Simply mentioning the Trans-Siberian Railroad usually refers to the Moscow–Vladivostok line. The reality, in fact, is much more complicated. The Trans-Siberian Railroad is not just a single railroad, but a rail network made up of multiple lines.
Five lines make up the network: the Trans-Siberian, the Trans-Mongolian, the Trans-Manchurian, the Baikal-Amur and the Ural.
The total length of the Russian rail network is approximately 85,000 kilometers, behind only the United States (250,000 km) and China (100,000 km).
#4: Every Train on the Trans-Siberian Is a Time Machine
Every journey on the Trans-Siberian Railroad takes passengers through some of the world’s most vast spaces. It also takes them through time—time ZONES, that is! Going from west to east, passengers travel forward in time. From east to west, they travel backward.
The journey from Moscow to Beijing takes you through six time zones. From Moscow to Vladivostok, it’s a whopping eight!
Who needs a DeLorean when you have the Tsar’s Gold!
#5: The Trans-Siberian: Brought to You by the Ministry of Defense
It might not be surprising to learn that the Trans-Siberian Railroad is run by the Russian government via the state-owned company Russian Railways. However, what may be news to you is that the railroad has its own armed forces, namely, the Railway Troops. First established in 1851, it is the oldest force of its kind.
The Trans-Siberian Railroad is an important part of the Russian economy, handling 30 percent of all exports, and it’s protection is essential for national security.
As with all armed forces, the primary responsibility of the Railway Troops is to defend the nation, and they fulfill this responsibility by building, maintaining and protecting the Trans-Siberian Railroad.
#6: For Speed Lovers: Rushin’ Railways
On a high-speed train, a journey on the Trans-Siberian Railroad can be traveled in seven days.
At regular speed, it can be completed in eight days without disembarking.
However, to truly enjoy the vast diversity of this journey, it’s better to take your time. We find that 12 to 16 days is perfect the perfect amount of time to discover the Trans-Siberian, with stopovers and tours along the way of course!
#7: The Trans-Siberian Railroad: Just Gotta Be Diff’rent!
The track gauge of the Trans-Siberian Railroad is not compatible with the standard European and Chinese track gauges, making it more complex than it already is to move rolling stock between Europe and Asia. The reasons for the difference are simply historical, and the reasons they have yet to adopt the standard are anyone’s guess!
Given the immense size of the Russian rail network, the Russian track gauge (1,520 mm) is the second most common in the world, but still makes up only about 15 percent of the world’s track, behind the so-called standard track gauge (1,435 mm), which makes up about 55 percent.
#8: The Stations of the Trans-Siberian
The Trans-Siberian Railroad has approximately 876 stations for passenger trains. Most of these stations are small and unfortunately are ignored largely by tourists.
Most travelers are more interested in the large central stations of the Trans-Siberian’s major cities, including the railroad’s largest station in Novosibirsk and the one-of-a-kind Slyudyanka station, which is made almost entirely of marble.
#9: The Trans-Siberian Railroad: An Infrastructural Feat
The Trans-Siberian Railroad crosses 497 bridges, travels through 15 tunnels, and traverses 16 major rivers.
Additionally, the Trans-Siberian Railroad goes through 87 major cities, 3 countries and 2 continents.
Most spectacularly, the Trans-Siberian travels along the world’s most voluminous freshwater lake, Lake Baikal, for 207 kilometers.