19 February 2010

Trains of Thought...

I love travelling by train. In my youth, I bought Interail passes for many years, and basically lived on trains for a month, wending my way slowly around Europe. More recently, I spent 36 hours on a train travelling from Italy through Austria, Czech Republic, Poland and Belarus (don't get me started on how I was dragged out of my carriage at gunpoint, at 5 o'clock in the morning, because I didn't have a transit visa for Belarus...)

But the big daddy, of course, is the Trans Siberian Railway. And now, thanks to those kind, but troublingly pervasive people at Google, I/you can travel that amazing journey without leaving home:

Moscow-Vladivostok: virtual journey on Google Maps

The great Trans Siberian Railway, the pride of Russia, goes across two continents, 12 regions and 87 cities. The joint project of Google and the Russian Railways lets you take a trip along the famous route and see Baikal, Khekhtsirsky range, Barguzin mountains, Yenisei river and many other picturesque places of Russia without leaving your house. During the trip, you can enjoy Russian classic literature, brilliant images and fascinating stories about the most attractive sites on the route. Let's go!

And when they say Russian classic literature, they mean classic literature *in Russian*; indeed, it's worth hopping aboard just for that.


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Peter Vereshagin said...

There are 2 points about this not to be missed:
- Several days earlier, the the Russian rival of Google, the Yandex company, wo still holds the search crown in a hot competition with Google, appeared with its much more useful ( more frequently useable and necessary ) kind of services: Timnetable and Trainies ( Расписание и Паровозики ). I'm absolutely sure the Google just needed to have an adequate reply to this on the scenes but they just couldn't do much of it without official backing ( http://rzd.ru is, and likely always will, be highly-controlled by very top officials ). So this is the marketing point;
- Recently, Google had a very lot of hard-talks and de-march with China. Taking into account that the Russian Far East is the arena of Chinese interests for natural resources and a place to extend and inhabit with no real and even possible resistance from Russian officials, this is a political point;
- Back to everyday real life and the state of the Russian markets, other than the Internet ones, it's obvious to say that the Crisis is getting into railway infrastructure, starting from Moscow. It's easy to say that seeing the what's up at Moscow railway stations on Komsomol square. Those are again dirty and destructing as I remember them in early 90s. And, here is the point: trains are being prepared to the mass migration of the people among Russia, it's a formal question if it'll be a labor migration or some other kind of intention, Moscow railway stations are the indicators because those are the centers of such a peoples' traffic. That's another marketing point.
Anyway, no one should really want to spend a week in terrible wagons in the middle of Russian nowhere. But the sights are gorgeous, so it's a main point I see here: the cultural. Again, pointless to me. :)

Glyn Moody said...

@Peter: interesting comment - and thanks for the RZD link.