All aboard, comrades.
Vodka, bears and shirtless, outdoorsy autocrats. These are probably the things you think of when you think of Russia. But the country has a little-known talent you might be hearing more about in the not-so-distant future: building railroads.
Russia is home to the three longest continuous railway lines in the world. All three of them run, at least in part, off the famous Trans-Siberian Railway, itself the world’s third largest line, spanning a record 7 time zones between Moscow and Russia’s far east. Since it’s completion in 1916, the terminus of the Trans-Siberian has been in the coastal city Vladivostok, near Russia’s borders with China and North Korea. Japanese newspaper The Hankyoreh reported that The Kremlin has approached Japan with plans to change that.
The proposed extension would roll the end of the Trans-Siberian back to Kharbarovsk. From there, the line would cross the Strait of Tartary before ending at the tip of Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan’s main islands.
Train lines from London to Paris and, subsequently, from Paris to Moscow currently connect Europeans to the Trans-Siberian—a new high-speed rail opened this year between Hokkaido and Tokyo would complete the journey from Atlantic to Pacific. In an age where flights from London to Tokyo clock in around 12 hours, a train ride between the two cities would take no less than a week, but hey, it’s about the journey, not the destination, right?
Additionally, the trip would take you through no fewer than seven countries: The UK, France, Germany, Poland, Belarus, Russia and Japan, and would cover a net distance of nearly 6,000 miles, or about 1/4 of the circumference of the Earth. Nice.
Vladimir Putin is expected to take some time off from murdering his opposition and marginalizing the LGBTQ+ community to take a visit to Japan in December, where the railroad will be major point of discussion.