|Joining Europe and Asia. Trans-Siberian Railroad|
The early form of Eurasian Land Bridge
Map of the Trans-Siberian (red) and Baikal-Amur (green) Railways
Sergei Witte responsible for the project as Director of Railway Affairs and Finance Minister
"The global significance of the Siberian Road can no longer be denied by anyone. It is likewise acknowledged, both at home and abroad. Joining Europe and Asia by a continuous rail connection, that road becomes a global means of transit, on which the exchange of goods between West and East will have to flow. China, Japan, and Korea, with a population of half a billion people."
"…with this great steam-propelled transit system producing more rapid and cheaper communication, and exchange of goods, enter into closer relations with Europe, a market, with a developed manufacturing culture, and thereby create a greater demand there for the raw materials of the East.”
"Thanks to the Siberian Road, (…) European know-how, and capital will find for itself an extensive new field of employment for the exploration and development of the natural riches of the Eastern nations.”
Finance Minister S. Witte
The Trans-Siberian Railway and its various associated branches and supporting lines, completed in 1916, established the first rail connection between Europe and Asia, from Moscow to Vladivostok. The line, at 9,200 kilometres (5,720 mi), is the longest rail line in the world.
Construction history of Trans-Siberian Railroad
The Trans-Siberian Railway
The plans and funding for construction of the Trans-Siberian Railway to connect the capital, Moscow, with the Pacific Ocean port of Vladivostok were approved by Tsar Alexander II in St. Petersburg. His son, Tsar Alexander III supervised the construction; the Tsar appointed Sergei Witte Director of Railway Affairs in 1889. The Imperial State Budget spent 1.455 billion rubles from 1891 to 1913 on the railway's construction, an expenditure record which was surpassed only by the military budget in World War I
The construction of the Far Eastern Railway commenced in May 1891 due to the economic development of the Russian Far East. In 1895, they opened regular train service between Vladivostok and Iman (today’s Dalnerechenskaya railway station). In 1897, they commissioned the Khabarovsk-Vladivostok line. Direct train traffic from the Arkhara railway station to Vladivostok was launched in 1916 with the commissioning of the railroad bridge over the Amur River near Khabarovsk. More than 5,000 railmen were employed at the Far Eastern Railway in 1900.
Finance Minister Sergei Witte’s Trans-Siberian Railroad Policy
Finance Minister Witte had already in 1902 initiated the early form of the Eurasian Land-Bridge - the Siberian Railroad Witte wrote in 1902, "The global significance of the Siberian Road can no longer be denied by anyone. It is likewise acknowledged, both at home and abroad. Joining Europe and Asia by a continuous rail connection, that road becomes a global means of transit, on which the exchange of goods between West and East will have to flow. China, Japan, and Korea, with a population of half a billion people." (Now it's three times as much.) "And already with a turnover of international trade of more than 600 billion rubles in value, with this great steam-propelled transit system producing more rapid and cheaper communication, and exchange of goods, enter into closer relations with Europe, a market, with a developed manufacturing culture, and thereby create a greater demand there for the raw materials of the East. Thanks to the Siberian Road, these countries will also increase their demand for European manufactures, and European know-how, and capital will find for itself an extensive new field of employment for the exploration and development of the natural riches of the Eastern nations." (The Schiller Institute ICLC Bad Schwalbach from the Conference “How to Reconstruct a Bankrupt World” March 21-23, 2003)
The Eurasian Land Bridge, sometimes called the New Silk Road, is a term used to describe the rail transport route for moving freight and/or passengers overland from Pacific seaports in eastern Russia and mainland China to seaports in Europe. The route, a transcontinental railroad and rail land bridge, comprises the Trans-Siberian Railway, which runs through Russia and is sometimes called the Northern East-West Corridor and the New Eurasian Land Bridge or Second Eurasian Continental Bridge, running through China and Kazakhstan. As of November 2007, about 1% of the $600 billion in goods shipped from Asia to Europe each year were delivered by inland transport routes.
Proposed expansion of the Eurasian Land Bridge includes construction of a railway across Kazakhstan that is the same gauge as Chinese railways, rail links to India, Burma, Thailand and Malaysia, construction of a rail tunnel or bridge across the Bering Strait to connect the Trans-Siberian to the North American rail system, and construction of a rail tunnel between Korea and Japan. The United Nations has proposed further expansion of the Eurasian Land Bridge, including the Trans-Asian Railway project.
According to Hofstra University, there is presently renewed interest in using the Trans-Siberian as a route across Asia to Europe. An advantage of the Trans-Siberian route over the China-Central Asian railway route (detailed below) is that trains must change bogies only once, at the borders of the former USSR. Also, the Trans-Siberian links directly to railways which ultimately connect, via Finland and Sweden to the year-round ice-free port of Narvik in Norway. At Narvik, freight can be transshipped to ships to cross the Atlantic to North America. Total transit time between Vladivostok and New York using this route is reportedly 10 days. Rail links from Russia also connect to Rotterdam, but may encounter greater congestion along this route with resulting delays. The trade route between the east coast of North America and eastern Russia using the Trans-Siberian is often called the Northern East West Freight Corridor.
The United Nations Development Programme has advocated greater regional integration along the Eurasian Land Bridge, including development of rail links between the countries of South and Southeast Asia and Central Asia, called the Trans-Asian Railway project. Chinese leaders have called for the establishment of free trade zones at both ends of the Eurasian Land Bridge to facilitate development. Said Khalid Malik, United Nations Resident Coordinator in China, "If this comes true, it will enable the continental bridge to play its due role in enhancing co-operation between Asia and Europe, and promoting world peace and development.
The future of the Trans-Siberian Railway
The Trans-Siberian Railway and its various associated branches and supporting lines has as we mentioned above established the first rail connection between Europe and Asia from Moscow to Russian Pacific seaports such as Vladivostok. The line, at 9,200 kilometres (5,720 mi), is the longest rail line in the world.
Trans-Siberian and today’s Russia
A positive turning point in the realization of the Eurasian development corridors (see below) occurred in Autumn 2000, when Russia’s President Vladimir Putin placed the Trans-Siberian Railroad at the centre of his Asian diplomacy. “We can specify more than one reason, that people in the Asia-Pacific area should choose transportation routes over Russia. These routes are shorter and not a little faster than the roundabout way by sea as, for example, from Yokohama to Rotterdam. You can transport containers with the Trans-Siberian Railroad to Europe, and they arrive in less than half the time… Perhaps a journey across Siberia would remind many people of the mind-boggling natural wealth of Russia. Siberia has unimaginable natural resources, and Russia has only just begun to really make use of them. (…) Just now Russian firms are thinking about new markets for their products, while mining companies are seeking new methods for exploiting the mineral resources more effectively…”
A worldwide movement along New Eurasian Land-Bridge
A worldwide Land-Bridge movement has been born along the New Eurasian Land-Bridge. The German citizen Mr. Lyndon LaRoche at the Schiller institute, Germany, has organized series of seminars with participants from the various cultures of Eurasia, to deepen the understanding of each other’s scientific, economic, philosophical and cultural traditions – and where they are similar; to deepen the foundations for a dialogue among our cultures.
Source: Jonathan Tannenbaum The New Eurasian Land-Bridge Infrastructure Takes Shape Schiller Institute (November 2, 2001)