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'Baikal…I have never seen water that clear in my life'
Ian Frazier, 2013

The Other Siberian Railway, how The New York Times writer saw it

By The Siberian Times reporter
13 August 2012

'There was also a warm welcome from the train attendant who, typically, cares for her passengers in a style that has been lost on many Western railways'.

Part of Baikal-Amur Mainline goes along lake Baikal, making for unforgettable sights. Picture: Alexander Lesnyanskiy

It's a new name for the Baikal-Amur Mainline (BAM) railway journey - 'a 2,500-mile all-you-can-eat buffet' - but this is a delightful account of a few days on 'the other Siberian railroad'.  

Many people crossing Russia on the main Trans-Siberian routing do not even think of the more northerly BAM which, as Finn-Olaf Jones, writer for The New York Times, says, 'inexplicably darts north through a blank spot on the map with few towns or even paved roads, a mysterious and enormous railroad loop through nowhere'. 

Baikal-Amur Mainline

Soviet post stamp, marking the opening of Baikal-Amur Mainline


But this is part of the excitement and this traveller - like others taking this less trodden route - found 'an undeniable romance riding through Siberia's vast wilds', going for hours without seeing a living soul.  

There was also a typically warm welcome for this foreigner from the train attendant who, typically, cares for her passengers in a style that has been lost on many Western railways.  

'Once she realised that I was her only foreign passenger she became almost maternal, doling out tea bags, mineral water and candy from her closet-size kiosk next to the bathroom. At sunset, to add to the train's living room ambience, she hauled out curtains on long rods that she fitted over the corridor windows.'  

The train may have had 'a nothing-fancy dining car that served essentially as a round-the-clock bar'; yet still this travel article is likely to whet your appetite to try the BAM. Soon, too, this line will have an even more exotic offshoot - a link northwards to the permafrost diamond capital of Yakutsk - for the more adventurous rail travellers. 

See more on Finn-Olaf Jones Siberian journey http://travel.nytimes.com/2012/08/12/travel/the-other-siberian-railroad.html?pagewanted=all

Comments (2)

Alexander's pictures of Baikal are one of the best I've ever seen
Baikal's fan, Belgium
14/08/2012 19:47
4
0
top of my wish list. I live in Russia, and not that far away from B-A Mainline, but have never tried it
Maria, Tomsk
13/08/2012 23:03
4
0
1

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