ferroequinology, the study of iron horses
October 6, 2008 9:14 PM   Subscribe

Trains of Russia, photos from Pavoroz.com, a site about the railways of Russia, the Baltics and the C.I.S. (Commonwealth of Independent States). More than 50 000 pictures of steam, diesel, and electric locomotives, EMU and DMU trains, draisines, stations, tracks, etc. The collection is updated daily. The Turkestan-Siberian railway.

American Railway Slang

Russian, CIS and Baltic Railway Map. A variety of train maps of that area, including subways and trolleys.

More details of the Trans-Siberian Railway including images of tickets etc.

World Railways, As Seen By Russians

Yahoo translator
posted by nickyskye (26 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
awesome post for the title alone!
posted by not_on_display at 9:32 PM on October 6, 2008

Nice! Thanks!
posted by brundlefly at 9:37 PM on October 6, 2008

Beautiful train photographs! And lots of 'em. Nice post.

There's a lot of snow in Russia!
posted by Salvor Hardin at 10:10 PM on October 6, 2008

Hey, no fair. I'm supposed to get to sleep soon. And a steering wheel on a locomotive...? Now I am going to be up a while....

Neat post! Thank you!
posted by Kronos_to_Earth at 10:13 PM on October 6, 2008

A space rocket moves on rails to the launching pad and thus it's listed among the trains.
I like their reasoning.
posted by jouke at 10:23 PM on October 6, 2008

Awesome, awesome post.

What is up with smelty-tippy train?
posted by Artw at 10:32 PM on October 6, 2008

jouke - check this out.
posted by Artw at 10:35 PM on October 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

Great stuff. Possibly like artw, I'm imagining that entire hill is solid slag.
posted by maxwelton at 10:43 PM on October 6, 2008

Artw: steel mills use railroads to deliver molten steel from the furnaces to the various mills. The Slag is used by railroads for track bed . Shiney green and black obsidian like stuff. That locomotive is from CF&I in Colorado.
posted by hortense at 11:02 PM on October 6, 2008

Wow what great photos Nicky :) great post.

Years ago I saw a documentary on PBS about the trans-siberian railroad (narrated by G Gordon Liddy of all people) and I have searched and searched for it to no avail. What captivated me was the soundtrack, which sounded like Russian orthodox chant, but much looser (sung by 4-5 people, not a large choir). It was such beautiful music! I'm betting they were Russian train songs.

Coincidentally I was googling O Winston Link last night, who shot photos of steam trains in Virginia in the 50s and 60s. I saw a show of his in a gallery in Soho once, and it amazed me that I had been in several of those small towns in Southern Virginia (the youtube doesn't do them justice).

When I was 14-15, before I could drive, I used to take my dirtbike to the train tracks about a mile from my house, and I would ride beside the rails, and could easily cover 30 miles in either direction, across bridges, through deep parts of the appalachian woods that no one else even knew existed, waving at the conductors as the trains went by, throwing rocks at the coal cars... I have very fond memories of these times.
posted by vronsky at 11:27 PM on October 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

Cool one, thanks! :)
posted by digger18 at 11:30 PM on October 6, 2008

May I just say three words here? Rail Grinding Trains.
posted by pjern at 1:29 AM on October 7, 2008 [2 favorites]

In Finland there has been annual competition "Resiina-ralli" (translates "Draisine Rally"), which involves several draisine teams traveling many days in the railroads from one corner of the country to another. The rally is televised and gathers great popularity among TV-viewers.

That's sounds cool as hell.
posted by Mitheral at 2:36 AM on October 7, 2008

@pjern - I thought at first you meant something like this, and I couldn't quite wrap my head around how you'd get a train to do that, but the videos you linked were even cooler :)
posted by kcds at 6:13 AM on October 7, 2008

It's parovoz.com, not pavaroz.com
posted by Krrrlson at 6:32 AM on October 7, 2008

This is great stuff! It's interesting to see the similarities between some Russians and the American "Geep."

Here is a "Big Picture" view of the Baikonur Cosmodrome, which includes some rail photos.
posted by SteveInMaine at 7:46 AM on October 7, 2008 [2 favorites]

In 2006 I spent a few weeks in Russia to help document the wooden cathedral on Kizhi island in Lake Onega. We traveled by rail from Moscow to Petrozavodsk. It was an eleven hour overnight ride, and I shared a two-berth compartment. We were pretty far north just after the summer soltice, so there were about 20 hours of good light each day.

Around 3am I was awakened by a change in the rhythm of the wheels on the rails. I raised my head to look out the window and saw that the train had emerged from a conifer forest onto a trestle crossing a river. The sun was behind me, and the sky was a brilliant clear blue. The river was broad and shallow through a valley carpeted by trees. A mile upstream there was a hydroelectric dam.

It was shockingly beautiful. The image dominates my memories of the trip. I had made the journey loaded down with equipment to study a unique piece of pre-industrial architecture, but this was overshadowed by the simple experience of getting there by rail.
posted by rlk at 7:53 AM on October 7, 2008 [3 favorites]

Krrrlson, thank you for the heads up about the misspelling. Jessamyn repaired the error.

ah, dear vronsky, love hearing about your childhood biking. *sigh. Bikes and trains, they're both wonderful. Thanks for the O Winston Link video. What a wonderful man, could listen to him forever. Steam trains are a great love of mine. I enjoy the way he tenderly looks at the people he photographed. His labor of love. Man, it hurt to hear about the prejudice of hiring a black man at one wage and no matter how many decades he worked, no matter how experienced he became, not giving him any wage increase. Poignant to hear the forgiveness in the voice of James O. Haden for that injustice. It makes me so angry and bitter for the horrible way black people have been treated in the USA. If Obama becomes elected that would seem, imo, a vindication of sorts. I truly hope that happens.

pjern, I totally enjoyed those Rail Grinding Trains videos. Such sparky iron dragon drama in the dark of night. And that great gush of water at the end of the train. Something really vital about that sturdy train of your first link. Reminds me of the Little Engine that Could.

rlk, What a beautiful, evocative comment. Thank you for sharing what feels like a sacred memory. Was your view in the Karelia part of Russia, near the Finnish border? Perhaps it's that trains seem to go where other vehicles do not, the peace, the landscapes. I've had some of the most memorable moments in my life on trains. Going somewhere but peacefully contemplating at the same time. Perhaps it's the rhythmic sound combined with the sense of a personal space, a certain serenity, my senses come alive on a train and I can well imagine the beauty of that landscape.
posted by nickyskye at 12:03 PM on October 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

Those train tracks were about 5 miles from Here Nicky
posted by vronsky at 1:33 PM on October 7, 2008

ah, I'd love to walk up to McAfee Knob on the Appalachian Trail in Catawba, Virginia. Looks like a beautiful hike. Wonderful landscape. There's a place I've been hiking in Massachusetts, Cobble Hill, near Lee, that is somewhat similar in the view over a valley, right on the Appalachian Trail.

What a great place to grow up vronsky, to be a kid there, bike riding along the train tracks.
posted by nickyskye at 1:41 PM on October 7, 2008

what a great post, nickyskye! it's great to see so many old school steam trains apparently still in use. you'd probably know that they've been totally phased out in India, apart from the famous exceptions of the toy trains running up to Darjeeling, Shimla & Ooty (and I'm not even certain that they are steam any more).

in contrast, Russia has these beautiful, hulking black engines, and they have fantastic red stars on their fronts! i'd love to see one of those speeding through a snowy pine forest at dusk. bonus points if it has a set of air horns that play the Internationale! super bonus points if it could be festooned with enormous red flags, with strong peasants & factory workers (men and women, both) striking glorious & optimistic poses on top.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:03 PM on October 7, 2008 [2 favorites]

or maybe something like this Ubu :)
posted by vronsky at 2:20 PM on October 7, 2008 [2 favorites]

Neat pictures - those steam engines are great! I wonder why it's still economical to run steam engines in Russia whereas they're being phased out elsewhere? Cheap coal? No emissions/pollution controls? Something else? (I assume those trains are in regular service, not just hauling tourists around on the weekends.)

I rode a few trains in Russia and the Ukraine around 1981 or so, and they were wonderful. For one thing, the tracks are wider gauge than in Western Europe (supposedly to prevent easy invasion by foreign armies, who couldn't just roll across the borders in troop trains - at least, that's what our Russian friends told us). This meant the cars were wider and a little more roomy than Western trains. Every car had its "concierge", usually a grumpy woman who tidied up and theoretically kept the restrooms clean, although theory often diverged dramatically from reality here. I think these women lived on the trains for days on end, since their little compartments were decorated with personal photos and tchotchkes - I guess anybody would be grumpy here! But most of them melted into big warm Slavic smiles if presented with chocolates by a foreign girl who only knew about 2 words of Russian.

We took the famous Red Arrow Express, an overnight sleeper train between Moscow and Leningrad (as it was called back then). It was a popular train, being fast and comfortable, and to keep up with demand the railway ran about 5 of them every night. All called the Red Arrow Express, with departures staggered every 5 minutes. Needless to say this created vast amounts of confusion since the sleeping compartments were all reserved and you had to get on the right Red Arrow Express. I see that now there are multiple departures but the trains have different names - only the Red Arrow has its own theme song, though.

Another favorite memory of Russian trains was the tea service. For just a few kopeks you could buy tea and biscuits when the concierge came around with them. Sugar cubes were extra, one kopek each, and your total was tallied when the concierge came back to collect the cups and plates. The sugar cubes were wrapped in white paper, with an outer band of colored paper, and after putting a sugar cube in his tea my brother idly refolded the white paper and slipped it back inside the band. Our Russian friend laughed and said that was the oldest scam on Russian trains, trying to bilk the railway out of a kopek for a sugar cube. (My brother left the empty folded wrapper on the plate and gave the concierge his most charming grin when she glared at him, but he forked over the extra kopek anyway.)
posted by Quietgal at 2:58 PM on October 7, 2008 [2 favorites]

another bonus point there for use of the word "tchotchkes"
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:34 PM on October 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

vronsky: yes! yes! yes!

(no youtube allowed at work, so had to wait to see what lovely treat you served up for me this time...)
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:41 AM on October 8, 2008

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