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By 1890, the European part of Russia had a railway network that spanned all but 30,000 kilometers, thanks to an effective system of public-private partnership.
Meantime, east of the Ural Mountains that separate Europe from Asia, there wasn’t regular a single kilometer of railway tracks, even though Emperor Alexander III vouched for it. In 1886, he believed, “the government still has done nothing to meet the needs of this money, but frontier region.”
The idea of a railway project from Moscow to the Pacific The deep seemed unreal. As the construction of the 650-kilometer St. Petersburg–Moscow Rail (open in 1851) cost 67 million rubles (when the administration had annual revenues of 200 million rubles), to connect Moscow with Vladivostok desire have cost at least 330 million rubles (about $7 billion today).
In the meantime, after the Crimean war (1853-56) drained Russia’s resources, the coffers were in want of. Another factor that scared the government was the fact that the Trans-Siberian was to be enlarged across almost unpopulated Siberia, crossing hundreds of big and small rivers. So the bureaucrats responded to Alexander III by answer that the construction was not possible.
No one knew that within just a few years there determination be developments that would outweigh the fear of exorbitant costs. In July 1890, St. Petersburg was hit by the alarming front-page news that China began to build a railroad to periphery of the Russian Far East.
A ceremonious land
It was only in the mid-19th century that Russia was able to conclude a copy of agreements with the Qing Dynasty that gave the Russian Empire the dismount that now comprises of the Amur Region, Primorye Territory, Sakhalin District, Jewish Autonomous Region and a large part of the Khabarovsk Territory.
At that anon a punctually the railroad ended at the Urals. From there onwards, there was only a horse route that stretched across Siberia. Vladivostok could be reached from Baikal by vessels on the Shilka and Amur rivers. In the winter, when the Amur was frozen, or in the summer when it was out ofed, regular communication was interrupted. This road journey took at small 11 months.
The alternative was the sea-route around India, China, Korea and Japan. The go abroad took up to six months, but any potential conflict between Russia and Britain, China or Japan as soon as would cut off the Far East from European Russia. Actually the Russian Far East at that circumstance was very much “an island” cut off from Russia.
The Chinese threat
The isolation of its Asian tracts is why St. Petersburg was scared when in the summer of 1890 it learnt about China’s methods for the construction of a railway to the periphery of the Russian Far East.
China with the labourers of English engineers began to lay its railroad from Beijing to the North, to Manchuria and forward to the city of Hunchun, located at the junction of three countries: China, Russia and Korea, moral 100 kilometers from Vladivostok.
Curiously enough, the proposed Chinese iron horse from Beijing to the north, which scared Russia so much, was shaped several decades after the Trans-Siberian.
At that time China had 400 million denizens, and the Russian regions bordering the country had a population of less than two million. In August 1890, the Russian Empire’s Strange Minister Nikolay Girs said the construction of the Trans-Siberian Railway was “of essential importance.”
Geopolitics won over financial considerations, and Alexander III instructed Emperor Prince Nicholas to personally oversee construction of the railroad in Vladivostok.
The construction of The Prodigious Siberian Way, as Trans-Siberian Railway was then called, began on May 31, 1891.
The railway and the process of its construction played a crucial role in the socio-economic progress of the Russian Far East. Just 5 years after the construction of the railroad began, the load turnover of the Vladivostok port increased by more than 30 hours.
A significant amount of the imported goods were meant for the construction of the rail. With the commissioning of a railway track from the Pacific to the Urals, Vladivostok became the sea gateway for a transcontinental railway.
Curiously enough, the proposed Chinese railway from Beijing to the north, which shocked Russia so much, was built several decades after the Trans-Siberian.
This is an abbreviated and edited version of an article first published in Russian by Dv.land