Trans-Siberian Railway is a 100-year-old engineering marvel

5 Oct 2016

Trans-Siberian Railway. Image: Maxim Petrichuk/Shutterstock

As the longest railway in the world, the Trans-Siberian Railway is one of the greatest engineering achievements of all time, and now Google has marked its 100th anniversary with a Google Doodle.

It took a quarter of a century to complete but when it was finished (just prior to the collapse of imperial Russia in 1916), the Trans-Siberian Railway was the jewel in the crown of Tsar Nicholas II’s reign.

Although it is a route largely taken by tourists soaking in the sights of the 9,289km of railway in Russia’s central plains, it still plays a crucial part in bridging the country’s western and eastern halves. Over 30pc of the country’s exports are transported on the railway and it is still used by Russians to travel.

Future Human

However, its construction – that began 100 years ago this year – may not have happened at all.

Back when it was first seriously proposed in the 1880s, the Tsar and his government were initially reluctant to spend vast sums of money on such an engineering project.

Trip of a lifetime

However, the fear of losing out on trade prospects was enough for them to recruit 90,000 labourers to start building the track between Moscow and Vladivostok, beginning in 1891.

To make the cost of laying the railway as cheap as possible, the engineers completely avoided the centres of commerce that would have asked for large fees – resulting in the decline of these centres and the birth of new ones.

Today, tickets to ride luxury cars on the train can set a person back thousands of euro, but more affordable tickets can cost just a few hundred euro, with the trip usually taking approximately a week to take in the incredible sights.

Trans-Siberian Railway gif

Gif: Google

For adventurers seeking an even longer journey, there is also the option of travelling through Mongolia or China, with both of these journeys’ final stops being in Beijing, China.

To mark the 100-year anniversary, Google commissioned animator Matt Cruickshank, who travelled the Trans-Siberian Railway in 2015, to recreate some of the sketches he did during the trip.

“I felt compelled to echo the visual strength of Russian graphics coupled with a folk art style,” he said.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic