Aug 24-26, Irkutsk to Ekaterinburg

I am on the slow train to Moscow, getting off at Ekaterinburg (also known as Yekaterinburg and Sverdlovsk). Ekaterinburg is near the Ural mountains, so almost in Europe. The trip is 3371km by rail and is taking me about 56 hours, giving an average speed of about 60km/h.

Overall, I believe it is about 7857km from Beijing to Moscow. At 60km/hour, that takes 131 hours, or five and a half days. With a 200km/hour (average) high-speed train, it would take a little over 39 hours, or a day and 15 hours. I don't know if such a high-speed rail would be a good investment for Russia, Mongolia, and China -- China already seems to have made that decision, but I have not seen much evidence of that so far in Russia and Mongolia. Perhaps especially for Mongolia, with a population of 3 million and most of the country being nowhere near a rail line, that would be a surprising investment.

Certainly, all three countries run the train exactly on schedule. The schedule is posted in each carriage, and I can tell where I am by the time, even if I cannot see the station name.

The scenery along the way is beautiful. Already, small parts of the birches and the bracken ferns are turning yellow.

The views at the stops are interesting as well. There is a predominance of industrial views, but also more interesting monuments.

When I was in school, I learned that the great rivers of Siberia are the Ob, Yenisei (Enisei) and Lena. The Lena has its source near lake Baikal, a few hundred kilometers North of Listvyanka.

The railroad crossed the Yenisei at Krasnoyark.

The railroad crossed the Ob at Novosibirsk. For me, it was in the middle of the night.

I learned that many places here are named after rivers. Irkutsk is on the Irkut river, and Omsk on the Om river.

In general, the landscape has been getting gradually flatter and less wild since Irkutsk. These pictures are in sequence.

The last picture with mountains is in Krasnoyark. I don't have as many pictures of the plains, though there have been a lot of plains.

It has also been getting rainy and colder. Before the attendants turned on the heat, I and everyone else in the train was beginning to wear a lot of clothing to keep warm. Then, as I got closer to Ekaterinburg, it got warmer and sunnier again.

One evening I had a nice view of the moon.