What on Earth is the Trans-Siberian Railway?

By Gary Cutlack on at

Google's assembled a fully animated Doodle to sit atop its search engine main page today, one designed to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the completion of the Trans-Siberian Railway. But what is it? Is the name not descriptive enough?

Well as you might be able to guess, it's a railway. The use of the word "trans" is not in the modern sexual way, but the old fashioned meaning of going across something. It is not a transgender railway line. It is a railway line of no discernable sexual preference that goes across a large and sometimes inhospitable part of Russia, taking in a staggering 5,700 miles and getting travellers between Moscow and Vladivostok in seven days.

It has a slightly more hardcore alternative route too, with the Baikal–Amur line splitting off and taking in a more northerly part of the East of the country, running parallel to the main Trans-Siberian and also ending near the Pacific coast. This one has a grim history, with work being started in the 1930s and continuing to the 1950s, with much of it being carried out by prisoners and prisoners of war, many of whom died during the build.

The full Trans-Siberian itself was constructed during the great railway days between 1891 and 1916, with the ambition of connecting Siberia to the rest of the world and speeding Russia's imports and exports of goods. That's a job it still does today, as it's a tourist hotspot, a key rail link for Russians, and also the best way of linking imports arriving in the East from Japan to Moscow for trade purposes. [Google]

Want more updates from Gizmodo UK? Make sure to check out our @GizmodoUK Twitter feed, and our Facebook page.