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Circumbaikal Railway

55The construction of the Trans-Siberian Railway was started in 1891 by order of tsar Alexander III to connect the western and eastern parts of Russia. It was decided to lay the railway from Irkutsk to lake Baikal along the left side of the river Angara and make a train ferry between port Baikal and village Tankhoy.

Two icebreakers carried people and loads. Their names were Barguzin and Angara. But it was not very effective. So in 1902 they started building the railway section along the south-west side of Lake Baikal from Cape Borovichok to village Koultouk and to station Mysovaya. Later the railway received the name Circumbaikal Railway.

In two years single track railway was laid and in 1911-1915 the second track was laid. The Circumbaikal Railway was connected with the Trans-Siberian Railway. Before the revolution this railway section was called “The gold buckle of Russia’s steel belt”. Buckle – because it connected the Trans-Siberian Railway broken by Baikal; and gold – because by cost of works per kilometer it exceeded all existing Russian railways. 

This was a unique project: about one wagon of explosives was spent per 1 km of the way and amount of earthwork equaled about 400 wagons of earth. The Round-Baikal Railway is a unique specimen of engineer thought. 424 engineering structures were erected altogether, including 39 tunnels and 50 galleries. The largest tunnel is situated at station Polovinnaya, its length makes up 778 meters. The Circumbaikal Railway had functioned until 1956. But after the construction of Irkutsk Hydro Power Station the railway section from Irkutsk to Port Baikal was drowned. 

So the the railway section between Koultouk and Port Baikal became a stub track and now its length makes up 84 kilometers. At present the Circumbaial Railway is a monument of construction engineering having no counterparts in the world. It is one of tourists’ favorite holiday places at Baikal.

56Circumbaikal Railway stations:

Kultuk - 157 km
Angasolka - 149 km
Sharyshalgai - 138 km
Marytui - 119 km
Polovinnaya - 110 km
Shumikha - 102 km
Ulanovo - 98 km
Port  Baikal - 72 km

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