The Trans-Siberian Route

Author: Dimitry Paranyushkin (on 21 Aug 2009)

The main Trans-Siberian route starts in Moscow and terminates in Vladivostok (Far East, the shore of Pacific ocean), in all it is 9288.2 kilometers long.
Soon after Ulan-Ude (Eastern Siberia, 5609 km of the railway), the Trans-Siberian route splits into three parts:
1) The Trans-Siberian
itself (continues to the East through Chita and Khabarovsk to Vladivostok);
2) The Trans-Mongolian
(continues to the South through Ulan-Bataar in Mongolia to Beijing in China);
3) The Trans-Manchurian
(the route continues to the South-East around Mongolia to China, passing Chita in Russia, Kharbin to Beijing in China).

The Map of Trans-Siberian

The Main Stops along the Trans-Siberian
(Moscow to Vladivostok):

Station: Distance: Time: Comments:
If you want to read a guide to a city, please, click on its name.
The duration of trip given is approximate. Please, don't rely on it completely, use up-to-date train schedules.
(length: 461 km, duration: 6 h 30 m)
Moscow 0 km 0h 0m The capital of Russia. A vibrant historical center.
A few years ago all trains would go from Moscow through Yaroslavl and Kostroma and then join the Trans-Siberian route a few kilometers before Kirov. Now only train #43/44 (Moscow - Khabarovsk) and a few other trains go through Yaroslavl. Most of the Trans-Siberian trains follow the route outlined below.
Vladimir 209 km 2h 30m A small ancient city along the Golden Ring.
Nizhny Novgorod (Gorky) 461 km 6h 30m A big vibrant industrial center of Volga region (Povolzhie).
(length: 1317 km, duration: 19 h 30 m)


Nizhny Novgorod  461 km 6h 20m Links to useful web sites at the Talk Lounge.
The end of Nizhegorodskaya region, start of Kirov region (790 km).
Time changes to Moscow +1 [GMT+4]
Kotelnich 830 km  11h 20m Here Trans-Siberian meets with the old track that was going through Yaroslavl.
Crossing Vyatka river (on 831 km)
Kirov 917 km 12h 50m A small industrial northern city. Center of Kirov region.
Crossing Kosa river (on 1041 km)
The end of Kirov region, start of Udmurtiya republic (1062 km)
Glazov 1125 km 15h 50m  
Belezino 1154 km 16h 20m  
Crossing Cheptsa river (on 1185 km)
The end of Udmurtiya republic, start of Perm region (1230 km).
Start of Urals region.
Time changes from Moscow +1 to Moscow +2 [GMT+5]
Crossing Kama river (on 1396 km)
Perm 1397 km 20h 10m A big industrial town in the beginning of Ural mountains. The main attractions are a few museums in the city, and old prehistorical caves.
The end of Perm region, start of Sverdlovsk region (1570 km)
Crossing Chusovaya river (on 1730 km)
Ekaterinburg (Sverdlovsk) 1778 km 1d 2h 20m Ekaterinburg was founded in 1797, and now it is the unofficial capital of Ural region — the most industrial (and polluted) region of Russia.
However, Urals are most known as the mountains that divide Europe and Asia.
Ekaterinburg itself is a nice and real (unvarnished) industrial city of modern Russia with many interesting buildings and sights.
(length: 1525 km, duration: 19 h 10 m)
Ekaterinburg 1778 km 1d 2h 20m  
The end of Sverdlovsk region, start of Tyumen region (2070 km).
The end of Ural, start of Western Siberia.
Tyumen 2104 km 1d 6h 30m The center of Tyumen region — the oil & gas center of Russia.
Ishim 2393 km 1d 10h 10m   
Crossing Ishim river (on 2395 km)
The end of Tyumen region, start of Omsk region (2485 km).
Time changes from Moscow +2 to Moscow +3 [GMT +6]
Nazyvaemskaya 2520 km 1d 12h 30m The closest place to Kazakhstan of the route: about 100 km.
Crossing Irtysh river (on 2674 km)
Omsk 2676 km 1d 13h 50m  
The end of Omsk region, start of Novosibirsk region (2800 km).
Barabinsk 3000 km 1d 17h 38m It is a great place to buy nice homemade food from old women who sell it

outside of the trains: baked potatoes, fresh vegetables, fish, meat, desserts. Be careful: the train stays 15 minutes only.


Crossing Ob river (on 3300 km)
Novosibirsk 3303 km 1d 21h 30m The biggest city in Siberia region with 1442000 inhabitants, it was founded in 1893. Novosibirsk is the third main cultural and

scientific center in Russia, the university of Novosibirsk is quite famous too.
The area around Novosibirsk is very good for camping and trekking, besides, Altai mountains are not far.
(length: 760 km, duration: 12 h 0 m)
Novosibirsk 3303 km 1d 21h 30m Read Novosibirsk guide.
The end of Novosibirsk region, start of Kemerovo region (3440 km).
Time changes from Moscow +3 to Moscow +4 [GMT+7]
Taiga 3532 km 2d 1h 0m In the night Babushkas (old women) sell nice homemade cakes waffles with three layers and sweet milk spread in between
Mariinsk 3680 km 2d 3h 0m  
The end of Kemerovo region, start of Krasnoyarsk region (3745 km).
Bogotol 3813 km 2d 5h 20m  
Crossing Chulym river (on 3880 km)
Achinsk 3881 km 2d 6h 20m  
Krasnoyarsk 4065 km 2d 9h 20m The center of vast Krasnoyarsk region, known for the national park "Stolby" just outside of the city.
(length: 1090 km, duration: 18 h 0 m)
Krasnoyarsk 4065 km 2d 9h 20m  
Crossing Enisey river (on 4067 km)
Ilanskaya 4344 km 2d 14h 0m There's a nice market at the station - eggs, potatoes, fish, sausages, tomatoes, ice cream, salted cucumbers, fresh stuff.
Train stays 20 mins usually.
The end of Krasnoyarsk region, start of Irkutsk region (4430 km).
Time changes from Moscow +4 to Moscow +5 [GMT+8]
Taishet 4483 km 2d 16h 30m Here you can change to BAM train line. Check beforehand if there's a train.
Nizhneudinsk 4647 km 2d 19h 20m Shops with beer, babushkas sell food in big bags - they walk with their bags and they open the bags to show you what is inside (there it looks like they're hiding). The air is warm and there are many mosquitoes.
Crossing Uda river (on 4650 km)
Zima 4902 km 2d 23h 10m A weird place with very hot climate in summer.
Crossing Oka river (on 4904 km)
Angarsk 5113 km 3d 2h 20m All the chemical and machinery productions are concentrated in this city. It was built by prisoners, so the landscapes are not very welcoming. Also, it is considered to be quite dangerous.
Irkutsk Sort 5145 km 3d 2h 55m Don't come out here - it's Irkutsk "sorting" station.
Irkutsk 5153 km 3d 3h 20m Irkutsk is a nice city with unusual atmosphere and interesting architecture.

Baikal lake is just 60 kilometers away. A good starting point for exploring the western side of the lake.


(length: 456 km, duration: 9 h 0 m)
Irkutsk 5153 km 3d 3h 20m Read Irkutsk Guide.
Here you start seeing Baikal lake (from 5266 km)
Slyudyanka 5279 km 3d 5h 50m A village on the shore of Baikal. It's more like a port, so it's not interesting to stay in there.
It is a good starting point for exploration of Circum Baikal railway (which starts there), or going

south to Arshan (3 hours), which is just next to Sayan mountains — a great place for camping, walks, and various activities.
By the way, you can buy great smoked fish from Baikal lake - Omul - there. Highly recommended.
Baikalsk 5360 km 3d 6h 40m A major ski and snowboard resort at Baikal. Hop off the train, walk 5 minutes and you'll have 6 slopes with runs up to 2 km, ski & snowboard hire, heliskiing. A nice and refreshing stop if you're traveling between December and April.
Check the itinerary of your train, as not all trains stop here. If you want to be sure, take a local train from Irkutsk or Slyudyanka.
The end of Irkutsk region, start of Buryatia republic (5345 km).
Ulan-Ude 5609 km 3d 12h 20m The capital of Buryatia republic.
Here you will feel like you're in Asia finally: a quiet and nice mix of Russianess and Easterness.
A good starting point for exploration of the Eastern shore of Baikal lake, or visiting the main Buddhist Datsan in Russia - Ivolginsky.
In Ulan-Ude the Trans-Siberian splits into two directions: to the south through Gusinoye Ozero, Djida, Naushki (Russia) to Ulan-Bataar (Mongolia) to Beijing (China) - Trans-Mongolian, and to the east through Chita to Vladivostok (Trans-Siberian).
Below the Eastern route to Vladivostok is shown.
(length: 2880 km, duration: 2d 3 h 20 m)
Ulan-Ude 5609 km 3d 12h 20m Read Ulan-Ude guide.
The end of Buryatia republic, start of Chita region (5730 km).
Time changes from Moscow +5 to Moscow +6 [GMT+9]
Mogzon 6022 km 3d 19h 0m  
Crossing Khilok river (on 6055 km)
Chita 6166 km 3d 21h 50m The center of Chita region. A big industrial city.
100 km after Chita (in Karymskaya) the Trans-Siberian splits into two routes: to the east to Vladivostok, to the south through Manchuria to China (Trans-Manchurian).
Below the Eastern route to Vladivostok is shown.
Karymskaya 6262 km 4d 10h 0m  
Zabaikalsk 6555 km 4d 5h 40m  
Mogocha 6876 km 4d 11h 40m  
The end of Chita region, start of Amurskaya region (7045 km).
Crossing Urka river (on 7079 km)
Skovorodino 7275 km 4d 19h 40m A few kilometers before Skovorodino there's a train line to BAM (Tynda).

photo courtesy MPS (Russian Railways Ministry)
Check beforehand if you can catch a train, otherwise you risk being stuck in the "middle of nowhere", which might be interesting as well.
Belogorsk 7835 km 5d 4h 20m  

The end of Amurskaya region, start of Evreiskaya region (8150 km).
Time changes from Moscow +6 to Moscow +7 [GMT+10]

Birobidzhan 8320 km 5d 13h 20m  

The end of Evreiskaya region, start of Khabarovsky krai (8481 km).

Crossing Amur river (on 8482 km) via the longest Trans-Siberian bridge - 2612 meters. After - a long tunnel.
Longest bridge on Trans-Siberian    
Khabarovsk 8493 km 5d 15h 40m A friendly Russian city on Amur river just next to China.

photo courtesy MPS (Russian Railways Ministry)
(length: 766 km, duration: 13 h 40 m)
Khabarovsk 8493 km 5d 15 40m  
Vyazemskaya 8621 km 5d 17h 50m  
Kotikovo, on the 8642 km, is the closest part of the Trans-Siberian route to China (only 3 kilometers).

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The end of Khabarovsky krai, start of Primorsky krai (8750 km).

Guberovo 8809 km 5d 20h 45m  
Ruzhino 8902 km 5d 22h 37m  
Ussuriysk 9147 km 6d 2h 57m There's an interesting view from the window: red cliffs.
Vladivostok 9259 km 6d 5h 19m The last stop of Trans-Siberian. In the 1860, an army squad landed on the bank of Zolotoy Rog (Golden Horn) bay and built the barracks, it was the first building in the Vladivostok. Soon after that Vladivostok became the main Russian port on the Pacific ocean.

photo courtesy MPS (Russian Railways Ministry)
Vladivostok is definitely a seaport. Most of the people are somehow connected with the sea: some are sailors, some are fishermen, some are serving in the navy. Be careful, because as any seaport Vladivostok is not quite safe.



Comment (9/12/03): "Why is the Trans-Sib so slow? Surely it should at least run at an average of 100 km/h (92h36m to Vladivostok). However, with electrification, why can't the ordinary trains maintain an average of 120 km/h (77h10m) or even 160 km/h (just 57h52m)?
Incidentally, what is the purpose of lengthy station halts other than to doctor the punctuality statistics? Can't the train come into the station, have the doors open, let people off and new passengers on, and then go, with a dwell time of just a couple of minutes?"
Answer: The Trans-Siberian in not slow. Russian Railways have a sofisticated railway systems that allows to track the exact location of any train on the whole territory of Russia (which is the biggest country in the world). The trains are very punctual in most cases, and there are rarely break-downs.
The trains have to operate in extreme conditions: minus 20 celcius, snow, ice, no possibility of any service within thousands of kilometers, especially, the Trans-Siberian.
So, there simply is no place for a risk of running trains a little bit faster for the sake of security.
As for the long stops, I think you just haven't traveled the Trans-Siberian yet. If you spend 1 day in a train, you will be waiting for every stop to be able to come out of the train and to walk around, rest, stretch, etc. So, the lengthy stops are very important.

Comment (4/02/04): "Just curious if those Policemen are authorised to detain passports of travellers between two destinations.
Are they allowed to physically intimidate & harrass passengers? Had several bad experiences travelling on board trains."
Answer: The law allows to detain people who are suspected by police, but not longer than for 3 hours (or 72 hours if there's no proof of the person's identity). Of course, they are not allowed to intimidate and harass passengers.
Such things as you describe may happen at the border with China, where Russian customs wants to "cash in" on travelers who are afraid to miss their train, in case their docs (visa and registration) are slightly out of order or before there was a problem with bringing money out of Russia (not it's not the case, because you're allowed to carry up to $3000 cash on you, which most people won't exceed anyway). It is then up to you whether you want to play their game or not.



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