It’s now Sunday 14 April and the train is just to the east of Krasnoyarsk (population 875,000), located about 4100 km from Moscow. We are more than half way from Vladivostok to Moscow, but there is still a long way to go.
We rejoined the train last night at Irkutsk, amid a huge throng of people waiting at the Railway Station. Luckily only a small group of them were headed for Moscow, and our train is still only about 2/3 full. We had dinner served in our compartment last night, and they took our orders for lunch today a short while ago. The food is not elaborate (unlike on a certain cruise liner), but it’s tasty and satisfying. I had a veal steak last night, and I’ve ordered chicken for today’s lunch.
The countryside is more undulating than before, still with a cover of snow in areas where the sun does not reach. The sky is blue, with not a cloud in sight. I can only guess that it’s probably about zero degrees outside, but I’m warm and cosy inside the train in my red polo shirt and orange shorts.
Housing around here is much more substantial than we have seen before. There are new houses, and others under construction. Mostly timber, with steep pitched roofs for the snow to fall off. Local streets are mostly unpaved. Garbage collection seems to be non-existent, as there are piles of litter, bottles, cans and general rubbish in every available depression in the ground.
The day is dragging a bit. We are now 380 km east of Novosibirsk, at Mariinsk (pop 39,100), named after Maria Alexandrovna, the German wife of Tsar Alexander II. Apart from that, the place has little going for it.
The weather remains fine and sunny, although still cold outside. The town looks a little more prosperous than many to the east. Perhaps as we draw closer to Moscow, things will continue to look better. I think there are oil, gas and coal deposits in this region, judging by the content of some of the freight trains that we see along the way, and that probably helps the local economy.
The railway line seems always to be busy with freight trains – with crude oil wagons, coal wagons, cement wagons and timber product wagons. There don’t seem to be many containers being railed across Russia. Maybe it’s just quicker and/or easier to send them by sea.
At about 10.30pm, we arrived in Novosibirsk and made our way to our hotel. It all seems OK. More later.