History of the Moscow – St. Petersburg Railway
The Beginning of the Train Journey
The Three Station Square (officially Komsomolskaya Square) is where the Moscow to St. Petersburg train journey begins. Leningradsky, Yaroslavsky, and Kazansky Stations surround the plaza, which is surrounded by massive clocks. There's no place on earth that's more associated with the idea of railway adventure than this location. A golden statue of the minister who built Russia's first railways stands in the middle of the square, and train stations are traditionally named after Russia's largest city along their route.
Leningradsky Station would have been an appropriate choice for those familiar with Soviet history. Saint Petersburg was renamed Leningrad in the early days of the USSR (Lenin's city). Even though the city's imperial name was reinstated by popular demand, the station's name was never changed. Similarly, despite being called initially "Nikolaevskaya".
The style of the stations on Komsomolskaya square differs vastly, even while having been built in the mid-19th century. St. Petersburg's Leningradsky railway station isn't difficult to find, as it is the main and most magnificent of them all. Those coming to St. Petersburg shouldn't be concerned about mismatching Leningradsky station with the others; it is by far the biggest and most magnificent of them all. 140 million people per year ride the Oktyabrskaya railway line yearly with a record speed of 3.5 hours from beginning to end. Impressive, especially when compared to the original journey time of 22 hours!
The Oktyabrskaya line is now only used by passengers. It was designed to replace cargo ships that traveled between Russia's two major cities in Nikolai I's reign. In the reign of Nikolai I, a forward-thinking German businessman named Franz Gerstner began annoying the Tsar with his grand proposal to construct Russia's first rail lines from Saint Petersburg to Nizhny Novgorod via Moscow. By then, Britain already had functioning railways, so the Emperor established a commission to evaluate Franz’s plan after some persuasion.
The board of commissioners rejected the plan, branding it "too ambitious and self-centered." For unlimited riches promised, the German professor demanded a monopoly on railway construction in Russia for two decades. After months of study, the project was denied permission to advance. Given this, Franz had to accept 27 kilometers from St. Petersburg to Tsarskoye Selo instead of the 1000 kilometers he wanted. The shorted line opened in 1837.
The Railways commission shot down yet another proposal from Melnikov, a brilliant Russian rail engineer sent to the United States by the Emperor after two years. The prospect of speeds up to 37 kilometers per hour could not soothe their trepidation at the prospect of paying out 43 million rubles. Instead, they backed horse-drawn carriage tracks, which were less expensive and more familiar (unlike railways, which were regarded with suspicion in those days). However, this time, Emperor Nikolai simply overrode the government officials and issued a decree to construct the St. Petersburg - Moscow rail line. In 1842, a 644-kilometer track was built connecting Russia's major cities in less than ten years.
The Tsar, his family, and all of their retainers traveled by rail from Saint Petersburg to Moscow in 1851 after a battalion of soldiers had been safely dispatched along the new railway line.
Nikolai I was not disappointed. The construction of the railway line had taken much longer than expected. After ten years, not all of the work had been completed. Temporary "gardens" were planted around stations on the track, and well-dressed employees were ordered to walk along with them to divert the Tsar from the flaws. However, thousands of other passengers who made their first train journey along these tracks were not particularly pleased.
The first steam engines had no heating, toilets, or enterprising babushkas selling pies. There were three classes, although the only distinctive feature of the first-class blue cars was a little plumper seating. The trip took 22 hours at best. At its worst, the trains could be out for 12 hours at a time. Passengers would often trek to the nearest village to escape frostbite while they were being restored, but compared to those who worked on the tracks for ten years previously; they had it easy.
Only one steam-excavation machine was used on a tiny proportion of the Moscow to Saint Petersburg railway tracks. Humans entirely handcrafted the remaining 600+ kilometers.
A Triumphant Conclusion
Every year, the trains got more dependable, and Oktyabrskaya Railway's popularity rose. Before the century's end, "courier trains" were making the journey in 13 hours. By 1913, passenger trains were able to complete the trip in 8 hours. The Varshavsky Railway Station Museum in St Petersburg has a replica of the original series C steam locomotive that allowed for this record by traveling at 100 km/h.
Although the Oktyabrskaya railway's history is preserved in museums, you may still travel overnight from Moscow to St. Petersburg on the famous "Red Arrow," which made its inaugural run in 1931. Despite the name, the train's carriages have initially been all blue because they were built by 1st class, Tsarist coaches. Surprisingly, first-class wasn't luxurious enough for Soviet authorities, so the wagons were refitted with a new level: SV.
The blockade of Leningrad during World War II halted railway construction on the Moscow-St
Petersburg route, but it did not cause significant damage. Today, trains from Moscow enter Moskovsky Railway Station in St Petersburg, which was built to accommodate Tsar Nikolai I's train in 1851.