The Long Journey Home Part 4 – Russia
Saturday 25th May 2019 (Ussuriysk to Vladivostok via Tikhootheans)
It wasn’t a particularly cold night at Ussuriysk, but it was a lot more comfortable festering in the large waiting area inside the station building, which even had a 24-hour shop/canteen type place. It wasn’t particularly busy at Ussuriysk station but quite a few people did use the station in the small hours. There was a constant flow of freight trains passing through, mostly with 3ES5K triple-set electrics, and there were two passenger trains departing before our booked train at 0437. Every passenger train we saw was worked by an EP1 electric, with 099E 0051 Vladivostok – Moskva Yaroslavskaya being EP1-133, the opposing working of 100E 0035 Moskva Yaroslavskaya – Vladivostok, which departed Moskva on 18th May, was EP1-127 and our 114E 1804 (P) Khabarovsk 1 – Tikhootheans arrived with EP1-323; and we were glad to see it do so when it did as we were starting to flag a bit. Yet despite the tiredness, and the fact I got dossed straight out once we’d made our berths up, I was wide awake by 8am and sat upright watching he hilly green terrain pass by the train windows.
Most people got off the train at Nakhoda, which is only a 20-minute run from the terminating point of 114E, at Tikhootheans. I’d only discovered the train by accident when looking at trains at Ussuriysk during the trip planning but as the train did something completely different, and is the only loco-hauled train that runs to Tikhootheans, it seemed like a sensible idea to do it for more than just the different factor. We would have, in theory, got more sleep than going straight to Vladivostok, where we might not have been able to check into or hotel very early in the morning, and Tikhootheans was a lot further east that Vladivostok, adding to the fun factor of just how far from home we were when we got there! And after arriving a few minutes early I managed a quick photo of EP1-323 before we walked the half-mile or so to the Pyramid Hotel where I’d arranged a road transfer through Kiwi Taxi to take us the 180km to our hotel in Vladivostok; which only cost £60, and was pre-paid during the booking.
The transfer was booked for 1030 and we were there waiting at 1000. At 1010 a nice-looking black car reversed into the car park and a young lad went into the hotel before reappearing and sitting in his car waiting. When nobody turned up after 5 minutes I banged on his window, showed him our reservation and he confirmed he was waiting for us. What we didn’t know until later when we got WiFi, was that he’d sent us both a WhatsApp message while he’d been waiting, to say that his “machine” was waiting for us. Initially I was quite impressed, the car was comfortable with climate control and everything was going ok until he nearly went into the back of a lorry while fuckin about on his phone. At which point he sensibly put it down and got on with driving properly. That didn’t last long and by the time we got to Vladivostok he was almost on it constantly, texting, talking to people and even surfing the next while driving, which was all thoroughly documented in my feedback to Kiwi Taxi. The journey took exactly 3 hours, which was the quoted time, we even had a piss-stop about halfway where a local lady started jibbering at us in English and was surprised to see to Englishmen in her village. The main road from Tikhootheans towards Fokino was shocking in places, so much so that people were driving on the opposite side of the road when nothing was coming. It was quite steep in places and it was like the whacky races when everyone was attempting to overtake slow moving lorries. Thankfully our car had quite poke when the driver put his foot down. From about Smolyaninovo the roads improved and once on the fast motorways north of Vladivostok we were motoring along at 125kmph. The railway from the Fokino area follows the road for quite a way and we saw quite a few freights with 3ES5K electrics and some with pairs of twinsets. One section looked to be under possession and in the process of being re-laid with at least three 2TE10’s occupying the line with their infrastructure trains. Had we not been so tired, I might have asked the driver to stop for a bit to allow us to take some photos; but we just wanted to get there. At 1315 we were dropped outside the front doors of the Primorye Hotel, or drive bid us farewell and was away as quick as he’d arrived in Tikhootheans.
The Primorye Hotel had looked the best of the bunch near Vladivostok station and it gave an impression of grandeur when we walked into the reception, with its own bakery shop in the foyer and an area when outsiders could sit and eat. The receptionist spoke good English and quickly checked us in and gave us the all important WiFi code before we headed up to our 3rd floor room. The room itself had a small bedroom with twin beds, separate from the main room area, which had a large sofa, seating area, TV and fridge but no air con. The bathroom had everything we needed, including plenty of toiletries and a nice sized bath to allow us to get some washing done later. Impressed with our room we both set about abusing it straight away. Our phones were draining the WiFi and I had 69 app updates for it to process. Having had no access to data for a week and with apps not updating in China prior to that there was a lot to process; and a much-needed shower in the meantime allowed or electronics to do their thing, while we did ours.
It was nice to be clean again, and back in the real-world, by which I mean connected to the rest of the world through the power of communication and once our loved ones knew we were safe and sound we set about abusing Facebook and bombarding it with photos from our North Korea exploit, while relaxing in our rather nice room.
We couldn’t toss it off all day though and high on my agenda was attempting to get a Russian SIM card, which turned out to be very, very simple. After asking at the hotel reception which service provider was best, they confirmed that either Beeline or MTS would cover all of Russia and Google Maps showed that both had shops near Vladivostok railway station. We came across Beeline first, where the staff spoke a little English and quickly sold us both SIM cards with unlimited data that would last the duration of our time in Russia; each costing a meagre RUB300, which is less than £4! They were active from the moment they went into our phones and I had 4G+ on mine before we walked out of the shop, just 5 minutes after walking into it.
Next on the agenda was collecting our tickets for the alternate Russia exit strategy that was so hastily arranged when we were in China and after gaining entry to Vladivostok station through the airport style security, we headed downstairs to the ticket office, changed the language on the machine that dished out numbered tickets to English and waited 5 minutes or so for or turn to come around. The tickets were issued immediately after I handed the lady at the counter my phone with the reservation details on the screen courtesy of the RZD App.
As Vladivostok station is very picturesque, we got a few photos of it after we left, along with the Lenin statue over the road from it and some of the excellent view across Vladivostok port just the other side of the station. With a walkway linking the station and port area its easy to get about and the sheer scale of Vladivostok’s port area, harbour and jus how hilly the surrounding area is, is visible in just one view; which even has a length bridge running right through the scene that crosses the port area from Vladivostok to link onto the opposite side to save car drivers a lengthy detour to get to the same area. Other than a couple of EMUs in the station area the only proper train we saw was an ECS with TEM7A-0485 at its helm.
Having had no meal at all since Tumangang we were quite pleased to find Bombay Grill, courtesy of Google Maps, which was on the main road behind the Lenin statue. We were the only people in the restaurant the whole time we were there, the Indian running the joint was very smartly dressed and spoke fluent English, and the food served up was absolutely cracking; it was just like it would have tasted in India. We were well impressed and fucking stuffed after it I might add. On the way back to the hotel we used a local supermarket to get some supplies, which consisted of what we thought was milk but was actually yoghurt, beer, sweets, beer, matches and beer. Needless to say, we spent the rest of the evening drinking beer in our room, after we’d done a load of washing and strung everything up to dry in front of the fan I found in the wardrobe. The job, as they say, was a good ‘un! There was no persuasion needed for sleep that night…
Gen for Saturday 25th May 2019
EP1-133 099E 0051 Vladivostok – Moskva Yaroslavskaya
EP1-127 100E 0035 (18/05) Moskva Yaroslavskaya – Vladivostok
EP1-323 114E 1804 (P) Khabarovsk 1 – Tikhootheans
Moves for Saturday 25th May 2019
|EP1-323||Ussuriysk||Tikhookeanskaya||1804 (24/05) Khabarovsk 1 – Tikhookeanskaya||114E|
|Taxi||Tikhookeanskaya||Vladivostok||Pre-booked Kiwi Taxi – 187km, 3-hours, £60|
Photos for Saturday 25th May 2019
Sunday 26th May 2019 (A day in Vladivostok before starting along the Trans-Siberian Railway towards Khabarovsk)
With no plans for the day we managed to be up by 9am and had the first proper breakfast of the trip in the Primorye’s restaurant on the ground floor; there was even pizza on offer in the buffet selection. After which, we maxed our relaxation time out in the hotel until the receptionist rang asking when we’d be checking out, then it was downstairs, checkout, dump bags in the cloak room and head out for a wander.
The idea of the wander was to try and find a vantage point over the railway between Vladivostok and the bottom end of the port, to get some photos of trains. We found one but unfortunately the massive pipe running the whole way across the yard prevented and decent photos being taken of the TEM7s and TEM2 that were shunting the un-electrified section of yard at the bottom end of the port. So, our 2km walk each way in the blazing sunshine was pretty much for nothing! I had managed a photo of 3ES5K-139 & 3ES5K-699, which were sat just south of the station area waiting to depart with freights, and of TEM7-0492 which had just been shunting a rake of wagons out of the yard when we’d arrived; which were loaded with steel slabs. We’d also had a good view over the sea, if not of the yard, for our sins and it had been quite interesting walking the length of the port looking at what was there along the way.
Back at Vladivostok station I had a bit more success and managed to photograph EP1-133 arriving with 008U 2354 (21/05) Novosibirsk Gl. – Vladivostok and them TEM2K-5065 with the ECS once it had dropped on to take it out. I managed to miss getting a photo of the green TEM7 that was shunting parcels vans about the station area, some of which had clearly arrived recently as they were being offloaded when we got back to the station.
Lunch was at Nostalgia Restaurant, close to the Bombay Grill that we’d used the previous afternoon. It was a nice restaurant and served nice food up, but they didn’t quite have a grasp on cooking everything to order and bringing it all out at once. Our first side-dish of fried potatoes, onions and mushrooms arrived first and was almost finished when my Viennese Schnitzel was plonked on the table, and by the time I’d finished that the second side-dish of potato cakes arrived; almost 10 minutes before Flossy’s grilled salmon was put in front of him! By which time I’d cleared up and the potato cakes were cooling down. Still, it was a decent meal and we left feeling satisfied with what we’d eaten.
After collecting our big bags from the hotel we headed over to Vladivostok station, through security and then waited it out on the platform; reveling in the monument on the station that indicated the end of the Trans-Siberian Railway, some 9288km from its start in the west. Electric triple-set 3ES5K-415 was spoiling the station karma until it did one and headed north light. TEM7A-0485 brought the empty stock in for our 351E 1720 Vladivostok – Sovetskaya Gavan Sort about an hour before departure time and once EP1-133 had run through the station there was a 20-minute rigmarole to go through before it was bolted to the front. We were in 3S class for our short run to Ugolnaya, which is 3rd class sitting, but it was empty and we were able to spread out during the 42-minute journey out of Vladivostok; where part 2 of our Long Journey Home commenced.
There was plenty to see from the train windows, despite the short journey time, with the sea being visible quite a lot on the left-hand side of the train. With the line being quite twisty & turny, there were ample opportunities to see the EP1 up the front curving round with our lengthy train, which had at least three different portions of stock in its consist. At Ugolnaya we headed straight out of the station and I had to run round to the footbridge that spans the station and was just in time to get a shot of 3ES5K-819 running through towards Vladivostok with a freight it had just departed the yard north of Ugolnaya with.
In the bay by the station 3TE10UK-0050 was parked up and there was another 3TE10 at the head of a lengthy train that was stood in the station area. From our vantage point on the footbridge we could see out across the sea and watched the train we’d just got off heading away into the distance across the water. There were also quite a lot of long freights using the corridor as well, most of which must have headed onto the Tikhootheans line, which branched off just north of Ugolnaya, as not many of the trains we saw across the water came through Ugolnaya station. There were plenty of local EMU’s knocking about, with only three freights running through in the 1h52m we were there, all headed by 3ES5K triple-set electrics: 3ES5K-819, 252 & 691 gracing us with their presence.
EP1-238 arrived early with 001M 1910 Vladivostok – Moskva Yaroslavskaya and our coach number 16 was toward the rear of the train. This time we were in 3rd class sleeping, platskartny and our coach was almost full when we joined for the little over an hour run to Ussuriysk. We had just enough time to have a coffee, courtesy of the piping hot boiler, and even had bedding handed to us for the short journey. At Ussuriysk, where we’d departed 40 hours previous, we festered in the same waiting room we had done then, did the same things to pass the time and barely moved during the 2h47m fester; although unlike last time we got pestered by the platform attendant asking where we were going, while Flossy was smoking, and then the security staff in the station building wanted to know where we were going as well. Those on our last visit couldn’t have been less interested!
Having made an executive decision to flag 005E 2045 Vladivostok – Khabarovsk 1, I’d watched it arrive with EP1-277 before spending the rest of the fester in the waiting room, where it was warm.
I was ready for bed when EP1-011 rolled in with 007EA 2151 Vladivostok – Novosibirsk Gl. And it didn’t take long to get our berths sorted in 2nd class sleeping (Kupe), once the attendant eventually stopped buggering about with tickets and handed our bedding out. It was pitch black in the compo and none of the lights worked, so we had to make them up with my torchlight shining the way, while trying not to disturb the two people dossed out in the upper berths; too much. With a 10-hour run to Khabarovsk 1, there was nothing to get up for, other than to get off the train at 0954 the following morning.
Gen for Sunday 26th May 2019
TEM2K-5065 Vladivostok station pilot
EP1-133 008U 2354 (21/05) Novosibirsk Gl. – Vladivostok
EP1-238 001M 1910 Vladivostok – Moskva Yaroslavskaya
EP1-277 005E 2045 Vladivostok – Khabarovsk 1
EP1-011 007E 2152 Vladivostok – Novosibirsk Gl.
Moves for Sunday 26th May 2019
|EP1-133||Vladivostok||Ugolnaya||1720 Vladivostok – Sovetskaya Gavan Sort||351EA|
|EP1-238||Ugolnaya||Ussuriysk||1910 Vladivostok – Moskva Yaroslavskaya||001M|
|EP1-011||Ussuriysk||Khabarovsk 1||2152 Vladivostok – Novosibirsk Glav.||007H|
Photos for Sunday 26th May 2019
Monday 27th May 2019 (Heading from Khabarovsk 1 towards Tommot on the BAM)
The whole train was up and about by 0830 and with time to kill the boiler provided water to make porridge and coffee before we alighted at Khabarovsk 1. At which point we were 8151km into our journey home and is was still further to Moscow from where we were, than the distance we’d covered at this point! EP1-011 was still at the head of the train and didn’t look like it was going to be removed as we walked away from it. A cloak room on the lower floor of the station building provided somewhere to leave out bags; for RUB170 each and after looking around the station building, we headed out for a walk around Khabarovsk. We did note a picture display on the upper floor of the station building showing the opening of the CIS gauge railway from Khasan to Rajin, in the Rason area of North Korea. The commemorative train ran in 2013 with 2M62’s at either end of a decent length passenger train.
Outside Khabarovsk 1 station is a turning circle for the tram system that serves the city and it wasn’t long before we came across a load of relic trams that looked battered to fuck beneath their brightly pained exteriors and the majority were being driven by women. They provided us with something to photograph while we ambled through the park that led away from the station and once bored of that we went in search of somewhere to get a meal; which after a lengthy walk around town we settled on KFC. Thankfully it had electronic screens which could be changed to English and we paid with a contactless card and waited for our order number to be displayed on the screen. It was bliss being able to do that and get exactly what you ordered, without any interaction with a person at all. Every restaurant in the world should adopt the same method and make everyone’s lives easier.
After a supermarket raid, on the way back to Khabarovsk 1 station, we sat in the upper floor waiting area charging everything we had as our overnight the previous night hadn’t had any charging facilities in the compartments at all. Our next train, 099E 0051 Vladivostok – Moskva Yaroslavskaya arrived into Khabarovsk 1 at 1350 but didn’t depart until 1500. After we’d collected our bags, we made it onto the platform just as TEM18DM-1144 was shunting a portion from Khabarovsk 1 onto the rear and TEM18DM-1140 train loco EP1-233 and a couple of vans onto the front of the train at the same time. We attempted to board the train but were literally man handled back off by the witch of a coach attendant, who needed to go to customer service training school instead of her local witch meeting club; what a fucking miserable bint! Apparently, while I was up the platform photting, she started shouting at Flossy across the platform when people were allowed t board; and he ignored her completely, which probably didn’t help matters. When I got back to the coach, she demanded to see my passport to check my details on her hand-held device and once we were on board, she left us alone but for demanding the bedding back when we approached In; which we’d not even used. I’d have liked to have given her a piece of my mind, but it would have been wasted so I just muttered under my breath instead!
Khabarovsk 1 station was quite busy before train 099E departed and there were at least 4 different TEM18DM’s shunting in the station area, 1140, 1144, 1145 and another. Other than the usual freights with 3ES5K triple-set electrics, a ballast train arrived into the yard over the back of the station with a 2ES5K twin-set electric 2ES5K-144, seemingly being pushed by 2TE10M-0521A/B, in green livery, and on the rear was 2TE10M-2692B/A, in RZD red/grey livery. After I’d photted the pair on the back, I noticed a couple of security staff dressed in khaki’s walk across the tracks towards where I was so made myself scarce. I’d not had any issues at all photting in Russia at this point and didn’t want to tempt fate, so walked back to the train and got on, like the good boy I am.
The 90-minute journey to In was in a cracking platskartny coach, which had more plug sockets in it than any other coach I’d ever seen in Russia. Every berth had its own socket and the upper ones even had USB sockets; so, everything got charged again! We had a change to look out at the Siberian landscape for the first time since leaving Vladivostok and while there were plenty of Silver Birch trees to see, there were also vast expanses of open green areas and the odd big industrial unit every now and again; with plenty of freight trains passing us, heading east. I have to say; the scenery was a lot greener than I’d expected and the Silver Birch were a lot more alive looking than I’d expected them to be.
At In, the weather had taken a turn for the worst and the sun had gone in. After braving the wind to photograph the two freights that passed through in either direction, we sat it out in the waiting room and I even got my jacket out for the first time since leaving the UK. The first freight that went through had 3ES5K-422 on the front, followed by 67 loaded coal wagons, then 3ES5K-554 in the middle with its own train of 68 coal wagons behind it. So, 135 wagons in total, which were probably 100T boxes, making 13500T with technically 6 high-powered electric locos for traction.
During our fester quite a few locals turned up at In station and all went out to the platform when something was announced. It turned out o be a westbound EMU that wasn’t advertised anywhere in the station building at all, or on the departure screens; so, it seemed you had to be a mindread around the In area to know when the local trains ran. It wasn’t long afterwards that our 663E 1620 Khabarovsk 1 – Chegdomyn arrived with EP1-337 on a short load-10 rake. Thankfully our 3rd class sitting coach, number 7, was in the middle of the train and we didn’t have t got running up the platform to get on. Unlike the comfy sitting coach we’d done out of Vladivostok the previous day, the sitting coach on 663E was as basic as they come, wit no AC but it was clean enough and the boiler and toilets worked ok. It was like being on a train in the back end of beyond though, so very apt for the journey we were making at the time; as In was in the back end of beyond and 51 minutes later, when we arrived into Birobidzhan 1 it had started raining and the whole scene was beginning to become very Siberian. Still, there was a nice clean station building for us to wait the 2h28m in, with charging sockets and it was warmer than being on the platform. The station yard looked to be busy, with at least 2 different TEM2’s being visible from the platforms and there seemed to be a freight running through the station every 5 minutes. It was a bloody shame it was cold and raining, otherwise it would have kept me well occupied with my camera.
EP1-168 arrived into the gloom at Birobidzhan 1 with 035E 1840 Khabarovsk 1 – Blagoevshchensk and 47 minutes later we were thrown out into the pouring rain at Bira, where the platforms were more like a lake with the amount of standing water around. Luckily, we’d stopped right outside the station building and had a quick exit from the outdoors to shelter, which I was grateful of when I realised that the plastic bag I’d been protecting my DMZ posters with had a hole in it! That was rectified with Flossy’s masking tape though, and no water would be getting through that.
As our final train of the day would only stop at Bira for 1 minute I attempted to find out from the girl on the platform whereabouts in the train our booked coach would be, which proved fruitless and neither her nor the woman at the ticket office had a clue. So, it would be a suck it and see job and as we were the only people waiting at Bira, for what was the last train of the day to depart there, we were very, very grateful when coach #15 stopped right at the bottom of the station steps. Which was probably just as well as the coach attendant had us straight on board out of the rain but hadn’t finished checking our passports before the train set off, with the coach door still wide open!
We were in a coupe coach for the next 31h45m, on board 325Sh 1917 Khabarovsk 1 – Neryungri Pas. It wasn’t as nice as some of the others we’d been in and looked quite old, based on the coach fittings and lack of charging sockets anywhere but in the corridor and toilet. It was immediately evident that water was leaking in through the window frame when we got into or compo, which already had both upper berths occupied. I was able to use the window blind to wedge a towel in, which was soaked through by the following morning but had done what I’d intended it to, in keeping water from getting to my pillow and soaking that through. The other two in the compo were happy for the lights to go out once we’d made our beds up and we’d be a lot deeper into Siberia the following morning, yet still nowhere near halfway through our 22493km trek home!
Gen for Monday 27th May 2019
EP1-239 099E 0051 Vladivostok – Moskva Yaroslavskaya
EP1-337 663E 1620 Khabarovsk 1 – Chegdomyn
EP1-168 035E 1840 Khabarovsk 1 – Blagoevshchensk
EP1-200 325Sh 1917 Khabarovsk 1 – Neryungri Pas. (to Belogorsk)
Moves for Monday 27th May 2019
|EP1-239||Khabarovsk 1||In||0051 Vladivostok – Moskva Yaroslavskaya||099E|
|EP1-337||In||Birobidzhan 1||1620 Khabarovsk 1 – Chegdomyn||663E|
|EP1-168||Birobidzhan 1||Bira||1840 Khabarovsk 1 – Blagoevshchensk||035E|
|EP1-200||Bira||Belogorsk||1917 Khabarovsk 1 – Neryungri Pas.||325Sh|
Photos for Monday 27th May 2019
Tuesday 28th May 2019 (On board train 325 1917 (P) Khabarovsk 1 – Neryungri Pas. all day)
After a decent night’s sleep I was up in time to have a wander at Svobodnyy during the dwell time and found Belogorsk allocated EP1-124 now heading train 325; which would no doubt have gone on at Belogorsk during the 50-minute stop in the early hours of the morning; which at least gave some respite from the movement of the train and whatever had been rattling in the compo all night. Even the earplugs couldn’t keep the noise out. Investigations of a morning revealed that it was the ladders in the compo that were doing the rattling, which was stopped by wedging a towel in between them and the compo wall. If only I’d realised that 8 hours previous….
2M62-0693A was sat at Svobodnyy with an infrastructure train, which I had to photograph through the train window with it being on the opposite side of the station t the station building. While it was still cold outside at this point, it had at least stopped raining though and the weather improved as the day went on, to the point where the compo window had to be opened as the sun was turning it into a greenhouse.
One of the guys in our compo got off at Svobodnyy but the younger lad of the two, we discovered, was staying on to Tynda and Anton, he told us his name was, spoke decent English. He was absolutely withered with our plan and couldn’t quite believe what he was reading when I showed him the bash plan. Thankfully for us, Anton spent virtually the whole trip on his upper berth lounging about and wasn’t interested in invading our space on the lower two berths. This left us plenty of room to spread out and revel in the day as the Silver Birch started to dominate the outside world, in large amounts.
The next decent length stop was Shimanovskaya at 0930, where EP1-128 was standing with a couple of freight wagons and TEM18DM-1160 dropped straight onto the rear of our train to remove the two Shimanovskaya portion coaches; which it shunted into the sidings out of the way. There were a couple of useful little ships just off the platform at Shimanovskaya and by those were old ladies selling fresh bits n bobs to eat for breakfast. Back on board the train, a trolley service was started from the restaurant car, which was the next coach along from us. As we had plenty of stuff though, we didn’t bother with the restaurant car services, or anything from the trolley. The stuff that Anton ordered and had delivered to his berth looked and smelled quite good though, so maybe we’d use one in the future.
During the morning the sun dried out the puddles outside and made the Siberian landscape look a lot less miserable than the previous day’s rain had. It was a rather pleasant journey through the wilderness with Siler Birch still dominating the landscape and a constant precession of freights heading west, all headed by 3ES5K triple-set electrics. At the sizable station of Tygda I managed to get off in time to get a shot of 2ES5K-284 & 2ES5K-285 running through with a lengthy freight while EP1-060 was sat in the station area with a couple of vans.
A lunch of cheese & crisp sarnies was devoured during the 1h5m run from Tygda & Magdagachi, where the last lengthy stop of the day occurred before the evening. EP1-124 was still present and correct at the head of the train and while checking it wasn’t going to be removed, I discovered that there’s a big steam loco plinthed on the platform. There’s a sizable loco shed at Magdagachi too, which had various 2/3ES5K electric stabled, an EP1 and various diesel types, including TEM2, TEM18 and 2TE10. There were at least three different TEM18DM’s involved in shunting duties around the station yard area with Belogorsk based TEM18DM-1155 being the only one I could clap my eyes on during our 18-minute stop there.
On departure from Magdagachi, that was it for over 3-hours, no fag breaks for Flossy and no photo-stops for me. It was a nice relaxing run to Skovorodino though and we even managed to get a look in at one of the charging sockets in the coach corridor at one point; and seized the opportunity while we could. With only two for the whole coach to use, the sockets had been in use all day, so we had to bide our time. This little frustration is the only issue I have with travelling on trains in Eastern Europe and as we’d already found out, it was hit and miss how modern coaches would be and what facilities they’d have as a result. Despite our current coach being quite old, it did have bio-toilets which at least meant they weren’t locoed out at every station like the old-style ones that dump shit onto the tracks. Although, they have their advantages, in that us western Europeans can put bog paper down them with out clogging the bio-bogs up, which even have a grate in the hole to stop bog paper and the likes being dragged down when they’re flushed. Which is a bit of a farce really, and I’m not a fan of putting shit-up bog paper in a bin either; its just fucking wrong!
As we approached Skovorodino, where we arrived at 1716, the sheer scale of the railway yards was evident from the train windows, with both sides of the train being dominated by huge, long yards and there were plenty of trains in them as well. Skovorodino is one of the few stepping-stones from the Trans-Siberian to the Baikal-Amur Mainline (BAM), linked by the Amur-Yakutsk Mainline (AYaM), which runs from Tynda via Neryungri to Tommot and north to Yakutsk and is locally known as the “little BAM” between Tynda & Neryungri. So, Skovorodino probably needed the space to cope with the demand and from here we’d be branching off the Trans-Siberian to head north on the diesel line, where we’d join the BAM main line at Tynda later that night. There was no messing around in the station and EP1-124 was already off the train by the time I got to the front and while it was being shunted off and 2TE10UT-0039B/A was being shunted on, 3ES5K-522 ran in with a freight, while TEM18DM-807 waited up ahead for its next shunt duty.
Having not done a great deal of research on what worked trains on the BAM I was pleasantly surprised with the 2TE10 as I’d been expecting a TEP70, or even worse a TEP70BS rebuild and our run north onto the BAM was celebrated with more cheese & crisp sarnies. We followed the Tran-Siberian for a short distance before the overhead wires disappeared off east and we headed into the proper wilderness as the diesel only BAM Railway started its journey north to Tynda. It was proper thickly forested on either side of the train for long distances and Pine trees were now in the mix, with not too many Sliver Birch around at this point. The line climbed quite a bit and twisted and turned along the way, revealing the 2TE10 in glorious sunshine at the head of the train quite often.
There was only one stop of more than a minute en-route from Skovorodino to Tynda, and we didn’t realise it was to pass another train on the single line until 2TE10UT-0008A/B arrived into Murtygit with what I later figure out from the RZD App was 081 1650 Tynda – Blagoevshchensk. And before that arrived, we were able to photograph TEM2-5754 with a solitary coach that had a board displaying that it was a Murtygit – Anosovskaya train. Although, I couldn’t find any existence of such a train on the RZD App so, we wondered if it was some kind of workers train, especially as it wasn’t going through to Tynda? Some massive guy on the platform, who we figured was probably the driver of the TEM2, seemed to take exception to me taking photos of his loco, I think. He actually could have been telling me to go and have a look in the cab with the way he was gesturing and pointing. Either way we took no more photos of the TEM2 anyway.
From Murtygit the sun began to sink behind the hills but that glow you get when daylight lasts for hours emanated above them and they had a readybrek glow along their edges. Along the way we passed quite a few freight’s, mostly hauled by 2TE25’s but at least one was a 3TE10. By the time we reached Tynda, at 2251, it was dark and we’d both been dozing. Unfortunately, Anton had to wake Flossy so that he could get his bag from under the seat he was dossed on, otherwise I’m not so sure he’d have got up at Tynda at all.
By the time I got to the front of our train, which would now sit at Tynda for 2h7m, 2TE10UT-0039B/A were just being removed and by the time I got back to the rear of the train TEM2-7862 had dropped on to remove the two vans attached to the back of it. It was a cold, clear night, even with my coat on ad I didn’t want to stand out in it too long. Amidst the shunting taking place all the stock was watered and by the time I called it a day standing around in the cold, the coach attendants had changed crews, TEM2-7862 had shunted a train together in the adjacent platform, where a through coach had been sitting when we’d arrived, 2TE10UT-0026B/A had arrived with 097C 1242 (22/05) Kislovodsk – Tynda and I got the impression that some shunting was going to take place with our set now it had been watered and the platform area was clear. While I lay in my pit, which was now a two-man only compo, I eventually felt the bump of TEM2-7862 dropping onto our train and was then pleased to feel the train moving. I didn’t know what happened but, we were drawn out and shunted into the adjacent platform and we had more coaches attached to the rear of the train the following morning, as well as to the front! We were only shunted that once though and while I was aware of the train locos dropping onto the front, I didn’t get back up to go and spot them; and was asleep before we set off at 0058.
Gen for Tuesday 28th May 2019
EP1-124 325Sh 1917 (P) Khabarovsk 1 – Neryungri Pas. (Belogorsk to Skovorodino)
TEM18DM-1145 shunt 2 coaches from rear of 325Sh at Shimanovskaya
2TE10UT-0039B/A 325Sh 1917 (P) Khabarovsk 1 – Neryungri Pas. (from Skovorodino)
EP1-274 @1520 with 1 wagon & 1 coach (near Taldan)
TEM18DM-971 shunt 2 postal vans to rear of 325Sh at Skovorodino
TEM2-5754 at Murtygit with a local to Anosovskaya on 1 coach (not on RZD App)
2TE10UT-0008A/B 081 1650 Tynda – Blagoevshchensk
TEM2-7862 shunt 325Sh at Tynda
2TE10UT-0026B/A 097C 1242 (22/05) Kislovodsk – Tynda
Moves for Tuesday 28th May 2019
|EP1-124||Belogorsk||Skovorodino||1917 (27/05) Khabarovsk 1 – Neryungri Pas.||325Sh|
|TEM2-7862||Tynda Platform 3||Tynda Platform 2|
Photos for Tuesday 28th May 2019
Wednesday 29th May 2019 (A trundle to the northern most extremity of the BAM at Tommot)
It was 0525 when the compartment door was flung open and the attendant announced we’d be in Neryungri shortly. I was surprised at how many people there were still in our coach at that point. I was also surprised that the coach boiler was still piping hot, but that was an unexpected bonus that provided us with a wake-up coffee of a morning. We stopped at a couple of stations on the outskirts of Neryungri, one with hardly any civilization at it, at all, and the other had 5 blocks of rather grim looking tenement style flats right by the station: and nothing else for miles. As we approached Neryungri, where we’d initially planned to stay before I realised I’d buggered the bash up on the BAM, it became evident that the town was a fair walk from the station and it too seemed dominated by tenement style flats.
On arrival into Neryungri Pas, we had time to discover that 2TE10UT-0039B/A had dropped back onto 325 at Tynda, after all the shunting had been completed, and was soon detached to allow TEM2-7670 to shunt all but three of the coaches out of the single platform. It wasn’t warm outside but the station waiting area inside was, even if it was undergoing a bit of an overhaul. There were plenty of people waiting too and one poor chap, who chosen to sit on his rucksack, had made a very bad error of judgement when he’d chosen to do so. When he figured out something was leaking in his bag, it took him ages to sort it out and he was very grateful for the fact that most of his clothes were in carrier bags when he discovered he’d broken the beetroot tub in his bag, and the juice was everywhere!
We only had 1h40m to fester at Neryungri and it passed in no time. When it came to boarding time, we were the only two people who were on the electronic reservation list and everyone else had a paper ticket, most of whom, if not all, had bought them at the ticket office in Neryungri that morning. TEM2-7670 shunted the load-5 rake of AYaM liveried red/white/blue/green coaches into the platform to form 324YA 0756 Neryungri Pas. – Tommot and when we went out to board, we discovered 2TE10MPGE-2235A at the front of the train. It looked very GE-like with its long hood having a typically GE look about it, but it wasn’t until we set off that we could tell it was a 12-cylinder power unit inside. It had quite a growl to it as we eased away from Neryungri Pas. and started out along the AYaM, and only 7km out of town we came to a stand for a bizarre coach attaching maneuver to take place, in the middle of nowhere!
On the outskirts of Neryungri, before the railway crosses over the Chulman River, we came to a halt on a triangle; after passing AYaM liveried TEM2NK-5234 seemingly heading towards Neryungri Pas. with one coach. Just off the opposite side of the triangle was Neryungri Gruzovaya station and before either of us realised what was happening, the TEM2 was propelling the coach towards the rear of our train, where it ultimately dropped it onto the rear and then headed off towards Neryungri Pas. After a quick brake test train 324YA was soon on the move, from what we assumed to be the booked Neryungri Gruzovaya stop, but what we assumed was an out of course random attachment, cost us about 15 minutes as we were late at Denisovsk, the second station out of town.
From that moment on our GE at the head of the train worked quite hard as the line climbed away from Neryungri to a maximum height of over 1200m. The Pine trees in Neryungri were soon giving way to a more rugged terrain where the vegetation was a lot sparser than we’d been used to thus far after an hour we started to spot snow on the hills and some of them were even in the clouds. By the time we reached the plateau most of the trees looked dead and the ground was covered in melting snow, which in some places was still a couple of feet deep. It did not look warm outside at all and one of the guys on the train made a point of showing us a few photos on his phone to put us off roaming around in the Siberian wilderness. They were all of either huge dead bears or the bodies of their victims; some with huge chunks missing from their torso and one in three bits after the bear had taken what it wanted. It was definitely enough to put me off and I had no intention of going far from the train, anywhere in Siberia.
The journey was quite pleasant of a morning and as I’d forgot to order bedding for the journey, we had to sit it out on the seats. Which wasn’t a great issue as the coach was quite full and we wouldn’t have been able to spread out anyway. At Tayezhnaya we passed a triple-set of GE 2TE10’s heading south. 2TE10MD-2335B, 2837B & 0278B. There was nothing at all anywhere near Tayezhnaya station and we assumed that most of the station dispatcher types spent a stint lodging at their respective station as some didn’t even have roads or even dirt tracks to them. Having seen he bear photos we figured out that the caged area around one of the station buildings and to the platforms was to protect the station staff from bear attacks; there could be no other reason to be caged in so far from civilization?
Like us, bert in our compo had his own collection of goodies and while we had porridge and tea, he had some sort of instant mash and brewed himself a lemon tea, with the fresh lemon he cut off with his large knife. He even had his own tub of sugar so, seemed to be more seasoned to this long-distance travelling lark than we were. He wasn’t a hassle, bless him, and even pointed out some sort of ruins at what I assumed was the summit of the pass our train had climbed over.
Once we began to drop down the other side of the hills, the snow began to gradually disappear and the blackened dead carcasses of trees began to give way to a much greener tundra and the trees soon got thicker again; to the point where they dominated the whole region, no matter whether it was hilly or not. I never saw a single bit of wildlife throughout the journey and but for the two big, and I say big tongue in cheek, towns along the way, Aldan was by far the closest to civilization we got after departing Neryungri. Even Seligdar, where quite a few got off, only seemed to exist as a massive work enclosure and those getting off were probably going here for that sole reason as there was nothing else around for miles.
Aldan offered the only leg-stretching moment of the 8-hour journey, with a 15-minute stop allowing for a brief respite from the coach, a quick photo-stop and those smoking on the platform had clearly been waiting to do so for a while; despite the fact that the stewardess in our coach had been seen smoking in her own little compo! The majority of people on the train alighted at Aldan and then the rest got off at Kuranakh an hour later, leaving only a few on board to make the journey through to Tommot; where our GE rolled into the single platform at spot on 1545, just as it started to hammer it down!
It had been a nice sunny afternoon, as well, and we’d been planning on walking the ½ mile down the road to the nearest café, but the rain changed that. Thankfully, the very bizarre looking station building was open and for a while we were the only people in it; until a large group of noisy teens spoilt the karma. About 10 minutes after arrival, the loco took the stock out of the station, which we assumed was to turn the whole set on a triangle somewhere with the loco being single-cabbed. When it didn’t return immediately, I got bored of waiting to photograph it and although the rain had stopped for a period and the sun came out, it had started again by the time it returned 2 hours later!
I thought the station security staff might have had something to say to us, with us hanging around for the length of time we were but they never blinked an eyelid in our direction and left us to our own once we’d found the only charging socket in the whole station building. It had originally been used for a machine but as the plug was already out, we took full advantage, and were very grateful for such small mercies.
As I stood on the platform waiting for the stock to return, the silence was broken only by barking dogs in the surrounding forest, or what I assume we dogs anyway. There was nothing at all on one side of Tommot and the town was centred around the river that ran through the area. Finally, we also caught a glimpse of something else living, that wasn’t human, as an eagle was spotted circling above the forest over the way from the station. It was a very surreal few hours at Tommot, and I’ve festered for longer in equally as deserted places in Ukraine, but we were glad to get back on board when the stock returned. Thankfully, it hadn’t been freezing cold at Tommot and at last we’d gone over the 10,000km distance travelled mark; but we still weren’t half way home! Technically, but for a change of coaches on the same train at Tynda the following morning, we were now on board our train for 83 hours; yes, 83 hours, which equates to 3.5 days! We’d be covering 4125km on the same train from Tommot to Novosibirsk, albeit with a shunt from one train to another at Neryungri and the change of coach at Tynda, but even from Tynda alone it was 3528km to Novosibirsk; and we’d be reveling in it once we got into our Kupe coach at Tynda the following afternoon. For now, though, we had to make do with our Platskartny coach, with no charging facilities, and hope that it wasn’t a rowdy bunch on board overnight.
After a couple of track machines had come into Tommot station from the north and then proceeded forward to the nearby infrastructure stabling yard, I figured out that when the lassie with the orange vest came out of the office in the station building, that something was going to occur in the station area; so followed her down to the platform the third time she appeared; which proved to be the right move when our GE and stock appeared from around the corner, with TEM2MK-2968 attached to the rear. The train ran round the goods roads and into the sidings at the south end of the statin where the TEM2 was detached and sent to do some shunting; we later saw it shunting tank wagons over the other side of the station building, where there are quite a few spur lines to places. After the lady in orange set the road our GE set the stock back into the platform and while 2TE10MPGE-2235A had turned, the stock hadn’t and was in the same formation as it had been on the outward journey.
We managed to make a new mate while festering at Tommot and Alex, who’d been working in Tommot on a new bridge for 2 months, was in the same coach as us for the journey all the way through to Tynda. He was harmless and while his English wasn’t great, it was way better than our Russian so, we indulged him whenever he wanted to try and make conversation. We were in the 2nd coach back for the journey to Tynda, with only the through Blagoevshchensk coach ahead of us (the one attached to the rear at Neryungri Gruzovaya that morning). On departure from Tommot the coach was probably about half empty and we had a compartment area in Platskartny to ourselves; which was the way it stayed for the whole journey.
The window in our compo was ajar and we could hear the GE thrashing away nicely on the front of the train. We did open it fully for a bit, but the cold air changed the karma of the coach, so we made do with it being ajar instead; for most of the evening. Despite being only on a load-6 rake, the GE was flat out for long periods while climbing uphill from Tommot and we were still climbing by the time we went to bed 3 hours later. Even though the weather had taken a turn for the worse, and we’d seen the scenery on the way to Tommot, we were still in awe of it on the return journey and were treated to a cracking sunset over the mountains before bedtime; including nice red skies above the snow-capped mountains.
At Aldan quite a few people boarded, including a girl with an RZD uniform who went all the way through to Tynda; which is a hell of a commute to get to work in the first place, especially if you then have to then do a week on board the train you’re working, before a 12-hour commute home again! While people were boarding our GE was detached to shunt a parcels van onto the front of the train; while TEM2-0791 sat in the station yard waiting its next freight shunt. As we departed Aldan our attempts to spot locos on the shed as we ran by, failed miserably. Mostly as quite a lot of the 2TE10s seemed to have private owner numbers on the side; which we thought might have been left-over from construction trains when the line was being built? Most of the locos looked to be dumped, although most also had covers over their stacks to prevent water ingress. We did manage to spot 2TE10’s 0347, 0106, 0353 and 0226, but we didn’t identify whether they were A or B units. As I said, failed miserably, and we’d never make decent train spotters! It wasn’t too long after our failed trainspotting attempt at Aldan that we called it a night, at which point I really should have set my alarm to wake me for the shunt at Neryungri…
Gen for Wednesday 29th May 2019
2TE10MPGE-2235A 324YA 0756 Neryungri Pas. – Tommot, 323YE 1906 Tommot – Neryungri Pas.
TEM2NK-5234 shunt coach to rear on curve near Neryungri Gruzovaya
2TE10MD-2335b 2837b 0278b at Tayezhnaya light
Moves for Wednesday 29th May 2019
|2TE10MPGE-2235A||Neryungri Pas.||Tommot||0756 Neryungri Pas. – Tommot||324Y|
|2TE10MPGE-2235A||Tommot||Tayezhnaya||1906 Tommot – Neryungri Pas.||323Y|
Photos for Wednesday 29th May 2019
Thursday 30th May 2019 (Day 1 of 3 on board 075E 0457 Neryungri – Moskva; to Novosibirsk)
As a result of not setting my alarm for the shunts at Neryungri Pas., when I woke with a start to find the train stationary, I went into instant flap mode until I could comprehend that we weren’t at Neryungri Pas. and only at Neryungri Gruzovaya, just out of town. Still, I dragged my arse out of bed anyway and got myself sorted and while stood by the door I heard what I believed to be the whistle from the loco to proceed. When we didn’t move, curiosity set in and I then noticed some engines moving away from the front of our train. It was like the previous morning all over again, just with more engines and no coach. Shortly afterwards a brake test was done on the train, indicating that the locos had just been detached from the front and given that we were about 10’ late at this point it would tie in with the theory. As we started to ease forward towards Neryungri Pas. I was grateful for three things, the fact that the three locos that had detached from the front of the train were stood on an adjacent line, the fact it was daylight outside, even if it was only 0330 in the morning, and finally for the fact I’d written the three locos down I’d spotted the previous morning at Tayezhnaya as I could only make out one of the three loco numbers; which was thankfully one of the three spotted! So, the morning had got itself off to a good start thanks to me waking up when I did and 2TE10MD-2335B, 2TE10MD-2837B & 2TE10MD-0278B (the one I’d managed to spot) were in the book!
During the trip to/from Tommot we’d seen nothing else moving on the line at all, other than TEM2s in yards along the way, and the 3 GE’s we’d just had; there’d been no freight spotted at all, although there was a short freight stabled in Tommot station which had mini-vans loaded on some of the wagons. Even with three GEs on the front of a train it would be a good slog along the line with the gradients and I’m guessing that the freight that does run isn’t lengthy by any means.
At Neryungri Pas. I was one of a few that go out of the coach and yet the only one not doing so to smoke. It was quite strange that it was broad daylight at 0345 of a morning but I was grateful of that small mercy and had been able to spot AYaM liveried TEM2NK-5234 waiting outside the station as we dropped in. When it dropped straight onto the rear of the train I didn’t need to walk down and spot it as a result; and was quite happy to get back on the train and into the warmth and let the shunting take place while I dozed. Which isn’t what happened at all, for two reasons, one being that once the whole set was shunted out of the station it was split, where I spotted TEM2NK-5234 putting the rest of the train into a sidings and we then moved off in the opposite direction while it was doing so. Luckily when I went to the vestibule I was greeted by the nose end of an RZD liveried loco through the glass and was pleased to find TEM2-7670 visible on the front of the loco; well the 7670 bit anyway, which was enough to satisfy the mind. The shunting antics that then took place left a lot to be desired though and whatever occurred in the carriage sidings took 7 shunts to do it, before the formed train was eventually shunted into Neryungri Pas. station platform. I didn’t bother getting back off to find out what would be working 075E 0457 Neryungri Pas. – Moskva Kazanskaya and left that job for arrival into Tynda; where the reason for the amount of shunting in Neryungri became evident as well.
It wasn’t a great morning in Tynda, where we arrived spot on time at 1010. I left Flossy on the platform, fag in hand watching the bags, while I scooted up the platform to spot 2TE10UT-0028A/B at the front of the train; which were soon removed. Walking back down the platform revealed 2TE10MK-0384 waiting the road forward with an infrastructure train loaded with sleepers. I’d been hoping the coach attendant in our coach #8 that we were booked in forward to Novosibirsk might let us leave our bags in our compo while we went in search of a supermarket but other than the Tynda coaches, the only through coaches in the whole set were the AYaM liveried Blagoevshchensk coach and one through Neryungri – Moskva coach (coach #4), which was sandwiched between our Tommot – Tynda coach and the Blagoevshchensk coach; explaining a bit of the shunting earlier at Neryungri.
In need of some goodies for our 3-day jaunt to Novosibirsk we went in search of a supermarket. After walking through the building site that is Tynda station area and station building, both ME Maps and Google Maps were involved in navigating to somewhere to get stocked up. Unfortunately, the shop right outside the station was only a convenience store and we ended up walking almost a mile away from the station, over a strange bridge over the river that was lined with metre-wide pipes on either side and with some savory characters knocking about drinking beer and smoking. It certainly wasn’t a walk I’d have fancied doing during the hours of darkness and definitely not with two big bags to carry as well.
After trudging uphill to an area that had quite a few shops we managed to get a few bits from a supermarket that didn’t seem to do convenience at all, and with no sliced meat of cheese on offer, or bags of crisps, Flossy bought a ceramic knife from a hardware store on the way back to ease the situation on board the train. The fruit stall and bakery near the supermarket yielded more stuff and we had plenty of stuff to keep us going by the time we got back to the station; our 2-hour fester having been reduced to only 20-minutes by that point. I had enough time to photograph the strange looking station building and steam loco plinthed in the parking area, before braving the building site of a station building again; which had trip hazards everywhere, door-frames foam-filled to the ground and protruding a few inches above it, with no indication of said hazards and no lighting anywhere that the trip hazards were. Other than that, the station building was functioning normally and there were plenty of people at the three ticket windows buying tickets.
Having arrived into platform 2 at Tynda on 075E 0457 Neryungri Pas. – Moskva Kazanskaya formed of 6 coaches, the train was now made up in platform 1 and formed of 17 coaches, with only two of the existing coaches of the original formation in it, the instrumentation coach at the front and the only through coach from Neryungri in the formation, coach #4. The rest of the train had been formed at Tynda and I was surprised that it was even shown as a through train from Neryungri and not just given a different train number to Tynda. TEM2-7862 was sat in the sidings by platform 1 with the through Blagoevshchensk coach that had come from Tommot with us and 3TE10MK-2572B/V/A was just being detached from a lengthy freight in platform 3.
Our Kupe coach, number 8, was right in the middle of the 17-coach formation and only a short walk from the station building. The coach attendant wasn’t sour faced, for a change, and we ended up with a compo to ourselves all day which allowed us to spread out and relax quite nicely. With berths made up, loungewear on, teeth brushed, and bags stowed we devoured a spot of breakfast that we’d got from the bakery in Tynda as RZD liveried 2TE10UT-0026A/B eased 075E 0457 Neryungri Pas. – Moskva Kazanskaya through the rather spectacular scenery as the BAM follows the Nyukzha River.
It was a nice sunny afternoon and yet again the Siberian scenery was different from that offered to us the previous day. We were still travelling through the back end of beyond, with no civilization about for miles, but there was evidence of Winter strewn about on the river banks at various points along the journey, in the form of massive ice blocks left behind as the river’s flow had decreased after the winter melt. With blue skies, white fluffy clouds and the river water often reflecting as clearly as glass, we could have been forgiven for thinking we were passing through an Alpine world as opposed to being in the Siberian one we were! The scenery needed to keep us occupied though as the first stop along the way of any significance was at 1905, 7 hours after departing Tynda, and we had bugger all phone reception, so there was no communicating with the outside world along the way; and other than some crappy data at Yuktali station for 44 minutes, we had no reception or data all day after departing Tynda.
The only other entertainment on board was watching Flossy attempt to make a sheath for his ceramic knife after he’d used it to cut his ham up that evening. I managed to use my plastic knife to cut through my block of cheese and made up as many sarnies as I could in one go, before packing them away nicely for eating later. With dinner finished before arrival into Yuktali we were able to go for a wander during the 44-minute station stop, along with the rest of the train. The station clock above the entrance to the platform at Yuktali was probably the most interesting thing there but I did manage to blag my way to the end of the platform, through some platform extension works, to get a photo of 2TE25A-0029 arriving with a freight. When the two RZD staff at the rear of the train realised what I was doing, they were more than happy to let me be and it was a shame I didn’t hang around as another 2TE25 followed into the yard shortly afterwards. By departure time all those waiting to take delivery of their goods from the vans at the front of the train were loading it into the vans as we eased away at 1949.
Despite me having been to the front of the train to phot the 2TE10 during the stop at Yuktali, neither of us had put two and two together with the staff at either end of the train and the brake test that had occurred during the stop. It wasn’t until 075E departed Yuktali and we spotted 2TE10UT-0026 standing outside the station, that we realised the bloody thing had come off. With the lack of station dwell time anywhere for the rest of the evening and the fact we were pretty sure 075E would be re-engined with an electric at Taksimo at 6am, our little error resulted in a 2am alarm call for me to go an investigate during the 1-hour stop at Novaya Chara. After a chilled evening listening to music and charging our phones, my alarm was set for 2am just after we departed Olekma at 2207; and Flossy had managed his last fag of the day before bed.
Gen for Thursday 30th May 2019
2TE10MD-0278B/2837B/2335B pilot 323YE to Neryungri Gruzovaya from Tayezhnaya?
TEM2NK-5234 shunt 323YE to Neryungri CS
TEM2-7670 form 075E in Neryungri CS then shunt to station
2TE10UT-0027A/B 075E 0457 Neryungri Pas. – Moskva Kaz. (to Tynda)
2TE10UT-0026A/B 075E 0457 Neryungri Pas. – Moskva Kaz. (Tynda to Yuktali)
2TE10MK-3357A/B 075E 0457 Neryungri Pas. – Moskva Kaz. (Yuktali to Novaya Chara)
Moves for Thursday 30th May 2019
|2TE10MD-2335B||Tayezhnaya||Neryungri Gruzovaya||1906 (29/05) Tommot – Neryungri Pas.||323Y|
|TEM2NK-5234||Neryungri Pas.||Neryungri C.S.||Shunt stock to Neryungri C.S. ex 323Y|
|TEM2-7670||Neryungri C.S.||Neryungri Pas.||Shunt stock in Neryungri C.S. to form 075E|
|2TE10UT-0027B||Neryungri Pas.||Tynda||0457 Neryungri Pas. – Moskva Kazanskaya||075E|
Photos for Thursday 30th May 2019
Friday 31st May 2019 (Day 2 of 3 on board 075E 0457 Neryungri – Moskva; to Novosibirsk)
The alarm call did its thing at 2am and as 075E rolled into Novaya Chara I spotted a plinthed 2TE3 at the east end of the station. As my bag was still tucked safely under my berth though, and it was bloody freezing outside on the platform, I didn’t bother to walk all the way down the platform to investigate either. It was quite dark at the head-end of the train and it was actually quite hard to spot the loco number on the front with the glare of the loco headlights. Still, 2TE10MK-3357A/B were the nag, and I was a little surprised not to find a Passenger sector loco up front; leading me to wonder if ‘0026 had developed a fault after departing Tynda as I had heard one of the coach attendants say the word “Lokomotiva” as we were approaching Yuktali; so maybe they had the gen?
While I was peering and straining my eyes trying to get the loco number, I initially thought the loco whistle was for my benefit; as though the driver was asking “what the fuck are you doing”. It wasn’t though and as the driver was in the cab of the B unit at the rear, the whistle was for the benefit of the shunter to indicate it was safe for him to go in-between and detach the locos. It was becoming like a railtour, but I wasn’t complaining; well, not about the fresh locos being added to the train anyway, but they were taking their time fucking about with brake tests before putting them on and it was bloody cold. After spotting 2TE10 number 4 for the train, 2TE10MK-3317B/A I was so pleased to get back into the warmth of the coach; and saw sniveling like a good-un when I clambered back into bed. Seemingly without waking Flossy at all.
At Taksimo we both surfaced from our slumber, where our body clocks were on 0715 but the fresh time-zone we’d entered had us back an hour at 0615. We were now on GMT+8 with only another 5 time zones to got before Moscow. The 2TE10 had already been removed from the train by the time I dragged my ass out of bed, and I found Floss smoking on the platform as I walked down to discover electric EP1-223 now at the head of the train.
After a doze I was glued to the window for some different scenery yet again. We were obviously quite high up as we could see snow-covered hills straight out of our train windows. As it was quite a misty morning, some of the hilltops were shrouded in cloud as well; it was a very atmospheric morning and the pine trees dominating the area continued with the alpine theme we’d been subjected to the previous afternoon. There were great swathes of dead areas though, where forest fires had clearly raged at some point and all those areas had left was a scorched earth and the blackened carcasses of pine trees standing upright as though they were waiting to be bowled over by mother nature at some point. Small green trees were already sprouting in the area though, so it seemed to regenerate quite quickly all the same
After a brief out of course station stop at Itikit we noticed a railway line go over ours as we then headed immediately into a tunnel after Itikit station. We quickly realised that we’d entered a spiral tunnel and after exiting the lengthy tunnel we went over where we’d just been under. The mountainous scenery changed to pine lined railway only at this point, but the line speed increased to a decent 120-160kmph afterwards though and we were bowling along towards the next decent length stop at Nov Uoyan, where a 13-minute leg stretch was appreciated.
After a lunch of cheese sarnies and crisps, which I have to say had done well to last since Tynda and still be so soft, we approached the largest freshwater lake in the world as we neared Severobaikalsk for a 1h15m stop. Our train skirted the north end of Lake Baikal as we headed west and from what we saw the majority of it was frozen over; although it did look like it had thawed and been cracking up but overnight temperatures probably kept it semi-frozen at this time of year, and the cracks in the ice were few and far between. Just to put Lake Baikal in context, you could fit England into it, making it a hole in the ground on a par with that of the Grand Canyon, which is also bigger than England. It was a cracking site to see as the train skirted it to enter Severobaikalsk station and give us a much-deserved afternoon break; but better scenery was yet to come.
No sooner had EP1-223 drawn to a stand in the platform, did TEM18DM-0299 drop onto the top of it and drag it and the leading two vans off. At the rear of the train, by the time I’d walked the length of the train TEM18DM-1177 had dropped on and it drew the rear most coach off the back and shunted into the adjacent platform. TEM18DM-0299 then dropped down into the same platform and gave one of its vans to is class mate; which was then seen shunting eastward out of the station with the coach it had shunted off and the van ‘0299 had passed on to it, with ‘0299 then shunting the loco and van it had left back onto the front of the train before EP1-223 was taken off in favour of EP1-203. Severobaikalsk was quite busy with freight during our stop and most people on the train were out on the platform at some point during the fester. EP1-138 was sat in an adjacent platform with a passenger rake, which looked to have just arrived and before we knew it, it was time to go again; with the next break being 5-hours further west at Lena.
No sooner had we got going from Severobaikalsk did the scenery backdrop change and it was a very pleasant afternoon ambling through mountainous terrain with snow-covered mountain dominating the landscape as we twisted and turned our way through it. The sun even made an appearance, by which point we’d woken to mist had a bit of rain, followed by a flurry of snow and now it had turned into a sunny afternoon with glistening white snow straight out of my compo window; whoever said the scenery along the Trans-Siberian & BAM was going to be dull, and all silver birch, needs to do the trip and disprove that hearsay for themselves.
As our coach was still quite empty we were able to make use of the charging sockets in the coach corridor pretty much as we pleased, which kept everything charged and even allowed me to risk watching some TV on my laptop; which I’d been refraining from doing so as not to flatten it for when I needed to use it as a speak & spell to get crap typed up. It was a pretty uneventful afternoon but for one strange incident that occurred in our compo after what turned out to be a pissed up youth from the next compo asked to borrow a knife; which I even understood in Russian after we’d been looking it up to buy ours in the first place. It was probably an error of judgement on our part in the first place to let him use it as when I came bac into the compo, rather than cut his bottle in half to make a drinking vessel, he’d clearly sliced straight into his hand and was bleeding quite heavily as a result; yet he seemingly wasn’t too put off with the fact our carpet was soaked in blood as he finished cutting his bottle open before attending to his wound. After leaving a big pool of blood in our compo, a trail down the corridor and blood all over the toilet, we managed to dig some plasters out for him to use. Randomly, he only wanted one and did seem to stop the bleeding, which probably looked a lot worse because he was pissed, and his blood would have been thinner. Eventually though, the coach attendants kicked off with him when they realised he’d been smoking in the toilets, had dripped blood all over the place, and that he was pissed. I was grateful that his finger was still attached and when we arrived into Lena, a few hours after the event, we both thought the ambulance that drove up the platform was for him. It wasn’t though but the following morning at Tayshet “finger guy” was seen with a plastic bag with stuff in it that looked like it was from a pharmacy.
Unfortunately, at Lena our coach filled up and at the same time we inherited two guys on the upper berths in our compo. It had been good while it lasted but we’d never expected to be on our own for a few hours, late alone 2 days; so, we couldn’t complain. To be fair to them, they were polite, didn’t make any noise once they’d made their beds up and the compo lights were out by 2230; and I never heard one of them come back in at all. That was day 2 of 3 over…….
Gen for Friday 31st May 2019
2TE10MK-3317B/A 075E 0457 (P) Neryungri Pas. – Moskva Kaz. (Novaya Chara to Taksimo)
EP1-223 075E 0457 (30/05) Neryungri Pas. – Moskva Kaz. (Taksimo to Severobaikalsk)
EP1-203 075E 0457 (30/05) Neryungri Pas. – Moskva Kaz. (Severobaikalsk to Tayshet)
EP1-190 at Kirenga with one coach at 1815
Moves for Friday 31st May 2019
|2TE10MK-3317B||Novaya Chara||Taksimo||0457 (30/05) Neryungri Pas. – Moskva Kazanskaya||075E|
Photos for Friday 31st May 2019
Saturday 1st June 2019 (Day 3 of 3 on board 075E 0457 Neryungri – Moskva; to Novosibirsk)
It was around 0745 when we surfaced, by which time most of the coach was already up and either having their morning wash or dealing with their breakfast. We did the same, and our stash of porridge from the UK had almost exhausted itself by this point.
I found it in my heart to get off my arse ad have a full body wash in the bog again, in the interests of personal hygiene! I even talked myself into having a shave later in the morning as well; and felt quite refreshed after doing so. Outside the window the weather wasn’t that great, and the scenery would have been better suited to the Leicestershire countryside than Trans-Siberian Russia. Unfortunately, when we rolled into the first decent-length stop of the day it began to rain and stayed that way for the whole time we were at Tayshet; which is the furthest point west on the BAM, where it joins up with the Trans-Siberian Railway.
Tayshet was a busy station, with plenty of freight passing through while we were there, including some trains with triple-set VL80P’s. On arrival EP1-203 Was detached from 075 and TEM18D-023 then dropped on to draw the BAM departmental coach off the front, before EP1-057, which had been waiting outside the station, dropped down to work 075 forward from Tayshet. There were plenty of stalls outside the station and on the platform the younger male contingent all seemed to be getting a beer in, while they could, as alcohol consumption isn’t allowed on RZD trains; although nobody batted an eyelid at those openly drinking on the platform.
After EP1-057 got 075 Neryungri – Moskva underway from Tayshet, the sun came out and we had to turn our watches back an hour as we crossed another time-zone; and we arrived into the next station at Reshoty 3 minutes before we’d departed Tayshet as a result of the time-zone shift. The two guys that had joined us at Lena the previous night barely moved from their upper berths all day and were an absolute pleasure to share a compo with; it was almost like they weren’t even there.
It was a pleasant afternoon run to Krasnoryarsk, where our only remaining leg-stretch of the 83-hour run to Novosibirsk occurred. For the previous two days we’d been used to trundling through the countryside and had got used to the ever-changing scenery. From Tayshet the line-speed increased quickly and we were motoring along all afternoon at the maximum speed the stock would allow, while the scenery outside had become a bit more mundane “general” scene, like we’re used to in much of the British countryside; and there wasn’t a silver birch to be seen for much of the sunny afternoon. At Krasnoyarsk there wasn’t much going on, but the size of the city was something else compared to what we’d been used to since leaving Vladivostok. The station area had loads of Krasnoyarsk based EP1s scattered around, with EP1-020 replacing EP1-057 at the front of our train. A plinthed VL60K-335 stands proud in the station area and the only freight we saw during the 40-minute stop was VL85-189 running through the platform shortly before we departed. Once back on board, that was almost it for us and at some point we had to consider sorting our stuff out and packing up properly, as we’d be rudely awoken at some point in the morning for our 0612 arrival into Novosibirsk; and the last thing we all wanted was to be fucking about trying to sort our shit at 6am, especially as all four of us in the compartment were getting off at Novosibirsk. Our last night on board 075 Neryungri Pas. – Moskva Kazanskaya was an early one and despite the two other occupants in the compartment having been horizontal in their upper berths for 90% of the journey, the door was closed, and lights were out well before 10pm.
Gen for Saturday 1st June 2019
EP1-057 075E 0457 (30/05) Neryungri Pas. – Moskva Kaz. (Tayshet to Krasnoyarsk)
EP1-020 075E 0457 (30/05) Neryungri Pas. – Moskva Kaz. (Krasnoyarsk to Mariinsk)
Moves for Saturday 1st June 2019
|EP1-057||Tayshet||Krasnoyarsk||0457 (30/05) Neryungri Pas. – Moskva Kazanskaya||075E|
Photos for Saturday 1st June 2019
Sunday 2nd June 2019 (A day in Novosibirsk, including a trip to the Small West Siberian Railway)
The rude awakening from the coach attendant came at 0501, just as I’d dozed back off after being awake for a while. Nobody wasted any time in getting their shit together though and our beds were instantly stripped, with all the bedding being handed back to the coach attendant, so she could account for everything. At least the boiler was still going strong, so we passed the time drinking tea; and before we knew it, the huge city that was Novosibirsk was upon us and we were out in the cold a few minutes before our booked 0612 arrival time.
It was a strange concept, being off a train and having to engage our brains to tell us what to do next. Our three days on board the train we’d just got off had been a breeze, and while very relaxing, it had been a haven from the outside world and literally allowed us to hole up away from it for a while. Still, we were back to reality and the first thing was to figure out where the funny looking engine on the front of the train had come on at. We’d not been expecting another loco change after Krasnoyarsk but with there only being one stop with enough time to do one, we assumed that Barabinsk based EP2K-027 had replaced the EP1 at Mariinsk. The good thing about spotting the loco meant that I could see out Park Inn hotel from the platform end and knew exactly where we needed to go; and we wasted no time in walking the 5-minutes it took us to get there.
Check-in time at the Park Inn was 1400 but, if there was availability early check-in was allowed and we were very grateful there was availability when we got there at 0630. Between 6am & check-in time there’s a 50% of the room rate additional charge, and at £51 we had no issues paying the extra £25 at all, which even included breakfast that morning as well, and was a bloody bargain really! Our room, on the 8th floor, overlooked Novosibirsk station and we could see the train we’d just got off from the window. As you’d expect from a Radisson Hotel the room was spotless, well appointed, had all the mod-cons and tea/coffee making facilities along with free toiletries in the bathroom, which randomly had a heated floor.
With so much to do, we didn’t know what to do first, but there’s one thing for certain, the bathroom took a hell of a hammering during the first hour of our stay and our trusty Omo washing powder from Hanoi was still going strong and needed to be. The water after the 2nd wash of my clothes on the sink was filthy, let along after the first wash, but thankfully, after the third wash I was onto the rinse cycle; and my poor hands were hurting by the time I’d finished wringing everything out and stringing it up around the hotel room, while Flossy cracked on with his own washing. I was that into getting my clothes clean, that I’d forgot to get a shower and it was such a good feeling when I stepped into the hot water raining down from above, it was like some sort of witchcraft this shower lark, which we wouldn’t be getting used to, and it had almost been long enough to forget how to use such a strange device; but I showed it who was boss and the whole bathroom looked like a bomb had hit it by the time we looked like normal people again!
With a bonus free breakfast included in our early check-in rate, it would have been very rude not to have partaken, and it was one of the best buffet breakfasts I’ve seen in a while. The only thing missing from the line-up was bacon! We pigged out good and proper on our first proper meal since leaving Khabarovsk and were both stuffed by the time we ambled back upstairs to the room, at which point I headed out to do the morning’s planned bash; leaving Floss to lounge around to his heart’s content.
I could see 055 2030 (P) Krasnoyarsk – Moskva Yaroslavskaya in platform 1 at Novosibirsk station from our hotel room, but the loco was hidden from view by a building. When I got onto the platform EP2K-286 was being prepared by the crew and there were a couple of faded sky-blue TEM18AD’s shunting stock in the station area. For brand new electric locos, the EP2K’s were quite loud and as they pull away you can hear the power increasing when the loco gets louder. It’s only a 17km run to Ob, on the outskirts of Novosibirsk, near the airport, and I only booked a lower-side berth in platskartny as a result; so as not to tie up a decent berth for someone that might want it for a long-distance trip. Originally, I’d planned to do two returns to Ob of a morning but even I flagged the first one in favour of getting clean and having a decent breakfast!
From the moment I arrived into Ob, to the moment my train back to Novosibirsk was visible on the horizon, I never stopped walking up and the footbridge over the station, and in the 1h34m I spent there, there were no less than 14 freights passing through, 3 light engines, 3 express trains and 5 EMUs on local trains. It was virtually non-stop and while the photos weren’t that great from the footbridge, the passing trains kept me occupied and I had no issues at all taking photographs the whole time I was there. Most of the freights were newer 2ES6 twin-sets but there were still quite a few VL10’s knocking around as well. The fester would have been boring without something to spot and when EP2K-123 arrived with 100E 0035 (31/05) Moskva Yaroslavskaya – Vladivostok, I was glad of the respite for the 20-minute journey back to Novosibirsk, where part-two of the day commenced.
Flossy was already waiting for me outside the hotel when I got there and the rather handy Yandex Taxi app, which is very similar and probably slightly better than the Uber app, had a taxi outside the hotel within 3 minutes of me booking it. With there being an Uber outside the hotel at the time, I was originally going to use the Uber app, until it asked me to update it before using it and then asked me to delete the Yandex Taxi app during the update process! Our driver spoke no English but didn’t need to as he knew exactly where he was taking us and the 5km journey to Zayeltsovskyi Park took 10 minutes and cost a very cheap RUB 112.
We were now at the western end of the Small West Siberian Railway, which is essentially a Children’s Railway and it’s the newest Children’s Railway in the world, after being built as recently as 2005. The line travels 5.3km and once we’d done it, it was obvious to see why it was built as it runs through a huge woodland park area with big parks at Zayeltsovskyi Park and Sportivnaya with a huge zoo at the opposite end at Zoopark and a nice riverside area accessible from Lokomotiv station. While the railway runs from Zayeltsovskyi Park to Zoopark the walking distance between the two locations is only around 1km and the whole park area was busy all afternoon, with it being a Sunday; which is also reflected in the weekend timetable that the RZD operated system runs to at weekends, with a 30-minute service running throughout the day.
There was very little English spoken by any of the RZD railway staff but as long as we could pronounce the station names we were ok. Unfortunately, the railway operates a reservation system and each ticket purchased is given for the next available train, along with a reserved seat on that train. We managed to get a guy to translate for us on the platform and the coach attendant confirmed that tickets are valid for the train they’re marked for and if you break you journey en-route then a new ticket has to be bought to continue onwards, which will also be valid only for the train endorsed on the ticket.
Pricing charts are up at all stations, as are timetables for trains departing each station. The only place I found a timetable listing trains on the full length of the line, and in both directions, was on board one of the trains but I only saw it in one coach throughout the afternoon. So, after successfully purchasing what we initially thought were return tickets along the line, which we’d be able to use to get off where we wanted along the way, we soon realised that our RUB 120 each had bought us single tickets from Zayeltsovskyi Park to Zoopark and that we could only use them on the booked train and sit in the coach we were reserved in.
By the time we got onto the platform at Zayeltsovskyi Park, the strange thing that is TU10-006 was already detached from the load-3 rake of stock (which every set is) and was running-round. As we’d paid for a ticket to do the length of the line, not that it cost much anyway, we decided to do the length of the line on our booked train; and assess the situation along the way. An assessment which had Flossy walking back from Zoopark to the hotel and me staying to get the other locos in on my own.
The line speed isn’t fast and the journey from one end to the other takes 43 minutes, with each train having a 17-minute stop at Sportivnaya along the way. When operating a 30-minute timetable, trains cross at Lokomotiva, Sportivnaya (during the 17-minute layover) and Yeltsovskiy, which isn’t actually listed on the timetables so I’m not sure if its used as a station or not; but there is physically a station there. With the intense timetable I was surprised to find the line running on 100% loco availability, with all four locos working the 4-train service. With the Railway’s 2019 operating season only having started the previous day everything was dressed up with balloons, including the locos, which wasn’t the strangest thing to be seen at the railway. The fact that the three TU7A’s the railway operate have been modified look like steam engines just makes the whole show seem a little weird and more like a theme park than an actual RZD operated railway. I was grateful that two of the three TU7A’s at least had their numbers on the side, with the other having it covered by some sort of plaque; so, I just hope Wikipedia is actually correct! It was for the three locos that had numbers on the side, so there wasn’t much need to doubt it for a change.
During our run on the 1230 Zayeltsovskyi Park – Zoopark we crossed TU7A-3338 at Lokomotiv with 605 1200 Zoopark – Zayeltsovskyi Park, TU7A-3339 at Sportivnaya with 105 1230 Zoopark – Zayeltsovskyi Park and TU7A-3343 at Yeltsovskiy with 607 1300 Zoopark – Zayeltsovskyi Park. Everything ran like clockwork and returned on what it was expected to, throughout my afternoon there and having figured out that buying tickets from the booking office got you a reservation on the nextt departing train, I headed out of the station at Zoopark with Flossy to await TU10-006 departing with the 1330 back to Zayeltsovskyi Park before buying my next ticket.
There are some quite nice spots in the woods for photographing the trains, despite the fact they look hideous! Although I’d make sure you have a map if attempting to walk around them as it does look a little confusing with all the narrow pathways around, and take some mosquito spray as it was mos-tastic where I was waiting to photograph TU10-006 heading back along the line. It was worth the wait though, although I didn’t come away unscathed thanks to my thinly covered head.
I was able to buy tickets for the journeys I made in the afternoon with no communication issues, with every station having a sizeable ticket office, except Lokomotiv where tickets are bought on the train. I stepped off at Sportivnaya and Lokomotiv on the way back to Zayeltsovskyi Park to get all the locos in and had no issues on board the trains or taking photos with my big camera at any point; which I did at the Moscow Children’s Railway. It was a pleasant afternoon, and a rather ho one at that, which my bald head was starting to reap the rewards of by the time I got back into a taxi at Zayeltsovskyi Park. The Yandex app had a nice little feature that allowed me to switch on a link that showed my collecting driver exactly where I was waiting, using the location from my own phone, and it worked a treat. I was able to watch his progress towards me, follow our route back to the Park Inn, and even rate the journey before I got out of the taxi. Yandex Taxi app is a must for anyone wanting to make hassle free taxi journeys in Russia.
With having nothing to eat since breakfast we were both peckish and the nearby KFC provided just what we needed, even if the computerized ordering system did let me order a drink that they didn’t have. That was where the language barrier broke down and it was thanks to a spotty young kid speaking English that I got my money back for the drink, as the miserable heffer who’d originally been dealing with me didn’t want to know and had walked off; seemingly disgusted that I didn’t want full-fat Pepsi instead of the Pepsi-Max that I’d ordered.
Back at the Park Inn I was surprised to find that most of our washing was dry and after everything was fully charged the hotel had done exactly what we’d needed it to; recharge or batteries, those of all or electronics and clean everything we needed. All it needed to do now was provide us with a non-moving bed for the night! Flossy managed to get his hair cut at the salon in Novosibirsk station but as the woman was doing such a good job I didn’t have enough time to wait and get mine done afterwards and left him with a towel wrapped around his head to do the evening bash. And after a nice evening bash, involving Ob’ and EP2K electrics, a couple of beers finished off the night nicely and our last hotel bed before the UK beckoned…
Gen for Sunday 2nd June 2019
EP2K-027 075E 0457 (30/05) Neryungri Pas. – Moskva Kaz. (Mariinsk to Novosibirsk Gl)
EP2K-286 055 2030 (P) Krasnoyarsk – Moskva Yaroslavskaya
EP2K-093 099E 0051 (28/05) Vladivostok – Moskva Yaroslavskaya
EP2K-123 100E 0035 (31/05) Moskva Yaroslavskaya – Vladivostok
EP2K-041 627H 1858 Novosibirsk Gl – Kulunda
EP2K-254 070Ch 1350 (31/05) Moskva Yaroslavskaya – Chita 2
EP2K-163 037H 1230 Tomsk 2 – Moskva Yaroslavskaya
EP2K-324 148H 1435 Omsk Pas. – Novosibirsk Gl.
Small West Siberian Railway (Novosibirsk)
103 1130 Zoopark – Zayeltsovskyi Park
106 1230 Zayeltsovskyi Park – Zoopark
107 1330 Zoopark – Zayeltsovskyi Park
110 1430 Zayeltsovskyi Park – Zoopark
605 1200 Zoopark – Zayeltsovskyi Park
608 1300 Zayeltsovskyi Park – Zoopark
609 1400 Zoopark – Zayeltsovskyi Park
612 1500 Zayeltsovskyi Park – Zoopark
105 1230 Zoopark – Zayeltsovskyi Park
108 1330 Zayeltsovskyi Park – Zoopark
109 1430 Zoopark – Zayeltsovskyi Park
112 1530 Zayeltsovskyi Park – Zoopark
607 1300 Zoopark – Zayeltsovskyi Park
610 1400 Zayeltsovskyi Park – Zoopark
611 1500 Zoopark – Zayeltsovskyi Park
614 1600 Zayeltsovskyi Park – Zoopark
Moves for Sunday 2nd June 2019
|EP2K-286||Novosibirsk Glav.||Ob||2030 (01/06) Krasnoyarsk – Moskva Yaroslavskaya||055|
|EP2K-123||Ob||Novosibirsk Glav.||0035 (31/05) Moskva Yaroslavskaya – Vladivostok||100E|
|TU10-006||Zayeltsovskyi Park||Zoopark||1230 Zayeltsovskyi Park – Zoopark||106|
|TU7A-3338||Zoopark||Sportivnaya||1400 Zoopark – Zayeltsovskyi Park||609|
|TU7A-3339||Sportivnaya||Lokomotiv||1430 Zoopark – Zayeltsovskyi Park||109|
|TU7A-3343||Lokomotiv||Zayeltsovskyi Park||1500 Zoopark – Zayeltsovskyi Park||611|
|EP2K-041||Novosibirsk Glav.||Ob||1858 Novosibirsk Glav. – Kulunda||627H|
|EP2K-254||Ob||Novosibirsk Glav.||1350 (31/05) Moskva Yaroslavskaya – Chita 2||070Ch|
|EP2K-163||Novosibirsk Glav.||Ob||1230 Tomsk 2 – Moskva Yaroslavskaya||037H|
|EP2K-324||Ob||Novosibirsk Glav.||1435 Omsk Pas. – Novosibirsk Glav.||148H|
Photos for Sunday 2nd June 2019
Monday 3rd June 2019 (Day 1 of 2 on board 099E Vladivostok – Moskva; to Moskva)
The morning started pretty much the way the previous evening had finished, but without the beer, and after the last proper shower I’d get before we landed on home turf, we munched on breakfast and visited a nearby supermarket for supplies that would last us to at least Moscow. With only nine teabags left between us, they were high on the priority list!
I’d already managed a return trip to Ob’ before breakfast and back at the station for the second time that morning, EP2K-018 was already attached to the front of the 17-coach rake that formed our 099E 0051 (29/05) Vladivostok – Moskva Yaroslavskaya; and it was off the end of the platform too. TEM18DM-406 & 417 were pottering around the station area and oldie ChS2-781 was standing in one of the back platforms waiting the road towards shed, and on shed another old green liveried ChS2 could be seen being prepared to come off. It was a nice sunny morning and the crew attending to our coach #10 seemed nice too; and allowed us to board as soon as we got to the train and brought us our bedding the moment it set off.
As our Barabinsk based EP2K-018 drew 099E away from Novosibirsk at 1008, it would be 27h05m before we’d arrive into Moskva, having covered 3344km; taking almost a day less that the time it had taken us to do the 3528km from Tynda to Novosibirsk! As we departed Novosibirsk, we were 14301km into our long journey home, with just over 8000km to go till London; with this one journey being almost half of that distance. When we crossed to River Ob’ and got up to speed heading west, we left Siberia in the rear-view mirror as we headed towards western Russia and some civilization, although we didn’t find much on this particular day.
While the days of solid silver birched areas were behind us there was still plenty of it about and for much of the day we travelled through open countryside with just had a scattering here and there, but there were plenty of areas that only had stumps visible, resembling silver bowling pins sticking out o the ground; which the day’s sunshine made stand out in the landscape they were surrounded by.
Lunch was provided on board as part of our ticket price and we were asked by the buffet crew whether we wanted chicken or pork and were served a lunchbox about an hour after we departed. The chicken with rice and carrot was very nice as well and the lunchbox contained water, biscuits, bread and salami; and all was RZD branded.
Unfortunately, we weren’t alone in our Kupe compartment and the young lad travelling with us was getting off at Yekaterinburg at 5am. He too had his own tea making stuff on the tale, accompanied by two full boxes of sugar cubes. When he made a cuppa though, I understood, when he put four cubes in his cup to make it! He left it all behind when he got off though!
There were only two decent length stops during the day, the first of 30-minutes a Barabinsk where EP2K-018 was already detached from the front of the train by the time I’d walked down. EP2K-278 was soon bolted on to replace it and before walking back down the platform I took the time to admire oldie, 1962 built ChS2-010 which is plinthed at the Moscow end of the main platform. Barabinsk loco shed is clearly visible on the right as trains depart for Moscow and it was full of EP2K electrics.
The next stop of any length was at Omsk Pas. after we’d gone through a time zone change prolonging the arrival time there. The weather had taken a turn for the worse by then too and as we were a bit late the 20-minute stop turned into a little over 10 minutes. With the next stop at Ishim being after another time zone change, the 2032 arrival time would be more like 2232 to our body clocks and we were read for bed by the time we departed. Thankfully, so was our fellow traveler in the compo, who’d already packed his bag in readiness for his early departure and it had been interesting watching him trying to fold his already creased shirt and keep it neat in his bag; bless him. Once we’d managed to persuade the compo window blind to stay down, bedtime was upon us.
Gen for Monday 3rd June 2019
EP2K-068 137H 2203 (P) Novokuznetsk – Tiumen
EP2K-130 124 0910 (31/05) Belgorod – Novosibirsk Gl.
EP2K-018 099E 0051 (30/05) Vladivostok – Moskva Yaroslavskaya (to Barabinsk)
EP2K-278 099E 0051 (30/05) Vladivostok – Moskva Yaroslavskaya (Barabinsk to Balezino)
Moves for Monday 3rd June 2019
|EP2K-068||Novosibirsk Glav.||Ob||2203 (02/06) Kovokuznetc – Tiumen||137H|
|EP2K-130||Ob||Novosibirsk Glav.||0910 (31/05) Belgorod – Novosibirsk Glav.||124|
|EP2K-018||Novosibirsk Glav.||Barabinsk||0051 (30/05) Vladivostok – Moskva Yaroslavskaya||099E|
Photos for Monday 3rd June 2019
Tuesday 4th June 2019 (Day 2 of 2 on board 099E Vladivostok – Moskva; to Moskva)
As it always the case with an early night, an early rise follows, and I thought I was up early at 6am but Flossy was already on his second coffee by then! I’d been woken by a guy making his berth up above me after getting on at Tiumen just after midnight, but I’d not heard laddo get off at Yekaterinburg just after 5am though; despite being up less than an hour later. It was a miserable morning outside and with no stop of any length until 1124 at Perm 2, it was a pretty boring morning too. Our attempts to pass the time in the restaurant car failed miserably as when we entered at 0725 the sign on the door, which we noticed on the way out, said it didn’t open until 9am and yet the guy laying the tables out pointed to 10 on his clock as an indication of when to return. So, porridge it was for breakfast!
The stop at Perm 2 couldn’t have come around quick enough and since we’d set off on this trip this was probably the first time I’d actually been properly bored during the whole trip. The station stops that allow you to get off the train for a short while do make all the difference on journeys like this and I was beginning to be very grateful for them; ad they usually brought with them connection to the outside world with decent da\ta on the phones being available at the longer station stops in the bigger places.
EP2K-278 was still with us at the head of the train and wasn’t removed at Perm 2. Stabled alongside us in an adjacent platform was a VL11M triple-set formed of VL11M-347A, 346A & 346B and while I was on the ballast photting that, 2ES10-131 arrived into the adjacent platform with a freight; which I realised is billed as a “2ES10” but actually has three units in its make-up. While waking back to the train I noticed a steam loco on shed in the distance and assumed that it was plinthed until I noticed the steam coming out of the top of it. When we departed, we ran by Perm loco shed, which had a few TEM18s and even a couple of ChME3’s stabled on it. And after spotting steam loco OV-014 plinthed on the shed, working steam loco L-4372 came into view and then parked immediately behind that were three demic steam locos rusting away in the undergrowth; L-4251 and the other two I didn’t get the numbers of. That was the entertainment for the morning provided with the next stop being in 4-hours’ time, after another time zone change. At least we had the compartment to ourselves now though and could relax a little.
At Balezino EP2K-278 was finally removed from the train in favour of ChS4T-451, which work all the way to its home depot of Kirov Pas. 4 hours down the line and into yet another time zone; where we finally reached Moscow time and would stay on it for the next couple of days. Our body clocks were well out by this point though, and so were those of others on board judging by the time everyone was getting ready for bed of an evening.
Before ChS4T-255 replaced classmate ‘451 on 099E, a rateable blue liveried electric set off from the adjacent platform with 007E 1124 Perm 2 – Moskva, which had been departing Perm as we’d arrived earlier. Now, with the numbering & lettering system not being always the same in Russia, I struggled to figure out if the loco departing with 007E was ZP1M-428 or 3P1M-428; either way, it was one or the other and on departure from Kirov Pas. that was the entertainment for the evening finished. Unfortunately, we inherited a guy in one of the upper berths from Kirov, who was getting off the following morning in Kostroma Novaya at 0350! I can’t say I was too impressed with the prospect of being woken up at such an ungodly hour, and although I didn’t realise it at the time, it would be a godsend him waking me. Not only were our compo blinds down and lights out by 2030, everyone else looked to have retired early too. This crossing time zones lark is tiring work…
Gen for Tuesday 4th June 2019
ChS4T-451 099E 0051 (30/05) Vladivostok – Moskva Yaroslavskaya (Balezino to Kirov Pas.)
EP1M-428 007E 1124 Perm 2 – Moskva Yaroslavskaya
ChS4T-242 110E 2235 (03/06) Moskva Yaroslavskaya – Noviy Urengoiy
ChS4T-255 099E 0051 (30/05) Vladivostok – Moskva Yaroslavskaya (Kirov Pas. to Galich)
Moves for Tuesday 4th June 2019
|ChS4T-451||Balezino||Kirov Pas.||0051 (30/05) Vladivostok – Moskva Yaroslavskaya||099E|
Photos for Tuesday 4th June 2019
Wednesday 5th June 2019 (Moscow, Russia to Kharkiv, Ukraine – not the way we’d originally planned to go)
It was 0415 when I decided that I really should drag my arse out of bed at Kostroma Novaya and walk to the front of the train to see what might have happened while we’d been dossed out. Moskva based ChS7-005 (2/1) were just dropping onto the train by the time I got to the front and up ahead the loco that had worked in with the train looked to be waiting to run back through the station to shed; which was just as well, as while I recognized the fact that it wasn’t a ChS4, which I’d last seen at the head of our train, it didn’t register until TEP70BS-052 came running back through the station, that it was a diesel! So, when I got back to the compo, I dug the handy-sized rail atlas I’d created for Russia out of my bag and sifted through it for the first time of the trip! Apparently, it pays to be a step ahead of the game and know there’s a diesel section on part of your overnight route! We were lucky this time and saved by a compo invader’s early departure. Of course, the sleeping Floss knew absolutely nothing about any of it, until I told him later in the morning.
I’d already had copious amounts of tea, polished off my last porridge that I’d brought from home, sorted my crap out in the compo, re-packed my big bag, had a full body wash in the bog and got changed into nice clean clothes by the time Flossy came around; at 0630! Time zone adjustment really was a pain in the arse! With only three stops between Kostroma Novaya and Moskva Yaroslavskaya, and being right away from 0648 to 1113, there really wasn’t much to do of a morning but prepare for getting off the train, and stare out of the window; which is pretty much what we did, along with the rest of the coach; who all looked like different people once they’d got dressed into proper clothes.
By the outskirts of Moskva we were ready for getting off and when ChS7-005 rolled into Moskva Yaroslavskaya, and brought the train to a stand 1 minute early, we were 17645km into our journey home but there was no rest for the wicked and after a quick photograph of our train on the blocks at Yaroslavskaya we walked the 10 minutes or so it took to nearby Kalenchevskaya station, on the suburban network. While walking along the front of Yaroslavskaya station building we could admire the more mundane Kazanskiy station directly opposite and with Komsomolskaya metro station being sandwiched between the two, Kalenchevskaya suburban station runs parallel to Yaroslavskaya, about 400m to the west with the circular suburban railway linking most of the main Moskva railway stations including Belorusskaya in the west, Rizhskaya in the north and more importantly for us, Kurskaya in the east.
While the short journey from Kalenchevskaya to Kurskaya was only a 2km, 5-minute journey, it was integral to keeping the bash alive, with the continuation of it by train. Tickets for the short journey were only RUB36 each, which is cheaper than the metro journeys that cost RUB55 each. Randomly though, Kalanchevskaya station doesn’t have a footbridge or underpass linking the two platforms and we were directed to walk round to the opposite platform, via the road under-bridge, by the ticket office girlie. Access to platforms on the suburban network is gained by using the barcode on your ticket at the barriers, which is exactly the same as it is to exit the stations as well. Or, as we witnessed while waiting at Kalanchevskaya, you can just walk down the ballast and clamber up onto the platform, then watch a train leave before walking off down the ballast again!
It was a simple journey to Kurskaya and once into the main hall of the station we were quickly able to dump our big bags at one of the two cloak rooms; for a rather expensive RUB460 each, which is over £5 and was more than double what we’d paid at Khabarovsk. Needs must though, and we were grateful of the fact we could dump our bags, which allowed us to bugger off to Red Square unhindered in the 30-degree heat that Moskva was basking in.
Its only one stop from Kurskaya to Revolution Square on the Blue One (Line 3). Tickets were easily purchased at the automated machines, which have an English option on them. Single tickets are RUB55 each and there’s an option to buy 1, 2, 10 or 20 tickets; which are issued on one ticket and can be used for the number of journeys paid for, but the same ticket can be used by more than one person. So, we bought a 2-ticket ticket and after I tapped Flossy in, I tapped myself in right behind him. Contrary to popular belief, the Moscow Metro is very easy to use, the lines are all colour-coded and numbered, and everything is signposted in English as well as Russian. On board the trains there are electronic displays under the stations t indicate where the train is in its journey and announcements on the trains we did, were in both Russian and English. It was as simple as catching the tube in London.
It’s a short walk from the Revolution Square metro station to Red Square and like Tiananmen Square in Beijing there are security protocols to follow when entering the square. Unfortunately, it seemed we’d picked a bad day to visit it as there were hundreds of stalls set up throughout the square, which to away the novelty and spoilt most of the views within it. Outside Lenin’s Mausoleum was free from stalls though but the backdrop to St. Basil’s Cathedral was spoilt by the number of cranes there were erected behind it. The whole of the area surrounding Red Square was undergoing a massive facelift by the look of the works going on and with the sheer amount of people around, we didn’t hang around long; especially with only having just under 4-hours in Moscow, total!
With job number one of three completed successfully, we caught the metro back to whence we’d come from and pigged out at Pizza Hut at Kurskaya station. While they didn’t have an English menu, the staff were able to translate for us and as they were only small pizzas, I went supersize and had two; the fat bastard that I am! Hole filled, job number three on the list involved a trip over the road to the posh shopping centre, underneath which was a large supermarket that provided us with all the train-food we needed for the next two trains from Moskva to Kharkiv and Kharkiv to Minsk.
We collected our big bags from the cloak room before heading to the advertised platform to await the departure of our 073 1500 Moskva Kurskaya – Kryvyi Rig. As we approached the steps to the platform though a huge Russian guy approached us, flashed some sort of ID and demanded our documents. When he understood we only spoke English though he shook our hands mentioned Manchester City and bid us a good day as he pointed up the stairs to the platform. It must have been Flossy that looked like the dodgy Ukrainian type they were looking for as I’m not a dodgy character at all. Either way, the guy would have made four of me, so there would have been no arguing.
It wasn’t long before RZD ChS7-079 (2/1) were trundling into the platform with the UZ stock that formed out 073 1500 Moskva Kurskaya – Kryvyi Rig. We’d seen it heading out of town with the stock while we’d been waiting for our EMU at Kalanchevskaya earlier, so knew it was going to be UZ stock; which I expected to be a massive come-down from the RZD stock we’d been used to on this trip, but I was wrong. The Kupe compo was nice, had working air-con, decent bedding and even a plug socket in the compo; which was a luxury we’d not been privilege to since the compo we’d had on the Tumangan – Ussuriysk move almost two weeks ago now. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make use of this luxury as not just my main charging cable decided to give up the ghost, my bloody spare on had as well; which was nice and convenient of them; fucking not! After a bit of wire bending and contorting, as you do, I did manage to get my phone charged eventually but I had to use my power bank to do it.
Fucking about with wires and phones took my mind away from the fact that the train we were on was utterly fucking shit, although our compo was about the best in the coach. Either side of us were young kids and at the end of the coach was a huge woman with a little twat of a dog that yapped at anything and everything that walked by. Punching the little fucker on the end of the nose would have been my suggestion for quietening it down but I couldn’t really do that to the kids running riot in the corridor, although a machine gun would have cured that problem! The noise was pretty much non-stop, and it was at this stage in our journey that we were thankful for the small mercy of being fucked so early in the evening; thanks to crossing so many time zones recently.
At Tula we had our first of two leg stretches. The station was a bit of a building site, but I did manage a wander and spotted a couple of VL11 triple-sets stabled in the station area, RZD liveried VL11-755A, 755B & 733B and green liveried VL11-684A, 702A & 702B. At Orel, I wasn’t going to bother getting up from my pit, but my mind got the better of me and I didn’t want to miss a loco change, if one was going to take place, which it didn’t. Still, ChME3-6177 was stabled alongside with a test train and ChME3-6163 was shunting stock in the carriage sidings as well, both of which gave the camera something to point at, then it was back on board and back to being horizontal; the next thing I knew about was the coach attendant waking everyone up for the Russian boarder control at Belgorod at 2am!
Gen for Wednesday 5th June 2019
TEP70BS-052 099E 0051 (30/05) Vladivostok – Moskva Yaroslavskaya (Galich to Kostroma Novaya)
ChS7-005 (2/1) 099E 0051 (30/05) Vladivostok – Moskva Yaroslavskaya (from Kostroma Novaya)
ChS7-079 (2/1) 073 1500 Moskva Kurskaja – Kryvyi Rih (to Belgorod)
Moves for Wednesday 5th June 2019
|TEP70BS-052||Galich||Kostroma Novaya||0051 (30/05) Vladivostok – Moskva Yaroslavskaya||099E|
|ChS7-005(2)||Kostroma Novaya||Moskva Yaroslavskaya|
|EP2D-0043||Moskva Kalachevskaya||Moskva Kurskaya||1039 Dedovsk – Caricyno||6424|
|ChS7-079(2)||Moskva Kurskaya||Belgorod||1500 Moskva Kurskaya – Kryivy Rih||073Ya|
Photos for Wednesday 5th June 2019