- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /
306

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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THROUGH SIBERIA
>
306
dock has been constructed, which we also saw in the
harbour. It was this traffic across the lake which was a
source of so much difficulty during the war with Japan,
when large bodies of troops were constantly being sent
to the East. In winter rails were laid on the actual ice
of the lake. The former Traffic Minister, Prince
Khilkov, himself directed the work. The railway
carriages were drawn across one by one by horses,
and the locomotives had to be tåken across in pieces, as
otherwise they would have been too heavy for the ice.
Since that time the line round the south of Lake
Baikål has been completed ; it was a great piece of
engineering and there were many difficulties to be over
come along the steep mountain sides. From Baikål
station on the western shore to Mysovåya station on the
eastern, the line is 151 miles long. Along its first part, to
Kultuk station at the south-western end of the lake,
the shore is particularly steep, and on this piece, the
length of which is fifty miles, the line runs for four miles
through tunnels. On the other side of the lake a great
deal of the land was marshy, which made it necessary
to build a great number of bridges, 189 smaller and thirty
five larger bridges. The line was a very expensive one
to build ; it cost 219,717 roubles per kilometre (£37,304
per mile).* But then the line was only a single one,
and the experience of the war had shown the necessity
of a double track. This led to an entire reconstruction,
which is now in progress and will soon be completed.
On this line we are now travelling along the southern
shore of Baikål. Gradually the mist disperses sufficiently
* For the sake of comparison it may be mentioned that the most
costly fine in Norway, the Ofot line, which runs through difficult
mountainous country with steep gradients, cost 250,888 kroner per
kilometre (£22,296 per mile), and the Bergen line, which runs over
the mountains to the west coast and has long tunnels, cost 135,461
kroner per kilometre (£12,022 per mile).

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