Friday, 29 June 2012

Russian Railways

Locomotives Er 797-86 and Em 735-72 stand at Mikulichin, Ukraine.

My introduction to Russian railways was in 2005 when I went to the Ukraine with my friend Mike (now, alas, passed on) for a steam driving experience. With the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Ukraine became an independent country. Part of its legacy from the Soviet era was a railway system built to the "Russian Gauge" of five feet using Russian-designed equipment. That trip is described in an earlier post titled Ukraine 2005.

At the time of my visit, this Siemens locomotive was the most modern in the Ukraine.

In addition to the steam trains, I experienced overnight rail journeys from Kiev to Ivano-Francovsk and back and we made fascinating visits to two railway works which overhaul diesel and electric locomotives. In addition, Kiev has a Soviet-built metro system which I also tried out.

Then, in 2011, I travelled from Moscow to Saint Petersburg by ship, using rivers and canals. That trip is described in a series of posts titled Trip to Russia. As you can imagine, railway photographic opportunities were limited but I grabbed what pictures I could and they are linked below in 'Russian Railways'. In Moscow, I was accompanied with other guests from the ship for a couple of rides on the famous Metro system but in Saint Petersburg I made a number of trips on the Metro on my own which are described here. I also spent some time looking round the terminal station for Moscow-bound trains in Saint Petersburg.

St. Petersburg: The station for Moscow-bound trains. Left to right, the 'CHME3T' has brought in 18-coaches to form a Moscow train, the glimpse of a High Speed train and Electric Multiple Units in the local platforms.

The class 'CHME3T' Co-Co diesel-electric was first introduced in 1964 and over 7,000 units were built. The 'T' indicates rheostatic braking. This uses a 4-stroke 6-cylinder engine, CKD type K6S310DR producing 993 kW to power six 134 kW CKD type TE-006 electric motors.

There matters remained until mid-2012 when, at short notice, I had to cancel a trip to Tibet because the Chinese suddenly stopped issuing visitors' visas. As an alternative, I suggested Mongolia and my travel people came up with the idea of travelling back from Mongolia on the 'Golden Eagle' private train on its 'Trans-Mongolian Express' service to Moscow. This train joins the Trans-Siberian Railway at Ulan Ude and travels 5,507 km to Moscow (the full distance from Vladivostok to Moscow is 9,157 km). My travel posts on my journey in July 2012 can be found here.

The present Russian Railway Company (RZD) emerged from a re-organisation in 2003, producing a state-owned company that is profitable. The structural reform was designed to preserve the unity of the railway network and separate the functions of state regulation from operational management. Would that my country had shown such wisdom! RZD has a comprehensive website here. RZD now brands everything with a smart red logo that looks more like 'pid' to English eyes.

This baggage car (photographed in sidings at Irkutsk) bears the new Russian Railways (RZD) logo, which looks more like 'pid' to English eyes.

Railway Photographs (not including the 2012 trip):

Ukraine Steam.
Ukraine Modern Image.
Chernovtsy Motive Power Depot, Ukraine.
Signalling at Mikulichin, Ukraine.
Kiev Locomotive Works (Passenger).
Kiev Locomotive Works (Freight).
Russian Railways.
Moscow Metro.
Saint Petersburg Metro.

Railway Photographs (2012 trip):

Russian Railways - The Trans-Siberian Railway (collection).
Ulaan Baatar Train Museum.
Plinthed 'Yea' Class at Polovina, Russia.
Circum-Baikal Railway Museum, Port Baikal, Russia.
Rolling Stock Museum, Novosibirsk.
Moscow Railway Museum


This is an informal, incomplete listing of books to hand with at least some relevance to Russian Railways.

'Soviet Locomotive Types - The Union Legacy' by A J Heywood & I D C Button (Frank Stenvalls Forlag) ISBN 0-9525202-0-6.
'Trans-Siberian Handbook Sixth Edition' by Bryn Thomas (Trailblazer Publications) ISBN 1-873756-70-4.
'The Trans-Siberian Railway - A Traveller's Anthology' Edited by Deborah Manley (Century Hutchinson) ISBN 0-7216-2255-1.
'Moscow Railway Map' (Quail Map Company) ISBN 1 898319 28 6.

The Heywood and Button book listed above is the standard English work on Russian steam, diesel and electric locomotives. I also have a splendid 564-page encyclopedia obtained some years ago from Motor Books covering steam, diesel and electric locomotive types in Russia from 1845 to 1955. It's entirely in Russian Cyrillic characters which I find completely inscrutable but is a useful source because it contains a mass of drawings and photographs.

[Reference to 2012 trip added 10-Aug-2012, links to more pictures added 1-Jan-2013]