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This rapid growth may seem impressive, but it was in part a failure because railway traffic at times did not grow fast enough to satisfy demand, partly due to congestion.

It is important to note that highways are more popular in the United States rather than railways. In contrast, the Soviet Union had little or even no highways. This plot compares the volume of rail passenger transportation in the Soviet Union and the United States United States. In the early years of the 20th century rail dominated passenger transport so the start of this graph implies that there was about twice as much passenger transport in the United States as in the pre-Soviet Russian Empire. But in the early s in the US , the automobile started to provide more passenger transportation than rail.

Although Soviet passenger travel by rail became several times that of the US, the total passenger travel in the US was many times larger than for the Soviet Union. In the US, gasoline rationing resulted in a surge of rail passengers with almost a third of passenger traffic going by rail. The invasion of Germany deep into the USSR along with German bombing of railroads, took its toll and greatly reduced passenger rail travel.

It was planned in to increase the passenger-kilometers of travel to billion by and to billion by , but it didn't happen since the USSR collapsed in During World War II the railway system played a vital role in the war effort transporting military personnel, equipment and freight to the front lines and often evacuating entire factories and towns from European Russia to the Ural region and Siberia. The loss of mining and industrial centers of the western Soviet Union necessitated speedy construction of new railways during the wartime.

Particularly notable among them was the railway to the Arctic coal mines of Vorkuta , extended after the war to Labytnangi on the Ob River ; construction work to extend it all the way to the Yenisey continued into the s, aborted with the death of Joseph Stalin. Soviet rail transport became, after World War II , one of the most developed in the world, surpassing most of its First World counterparts [ citation needed ]. This steady growth in rail transport can be explained by the country's need to extract its natural resources , most of which were located close to, or in Siberia.

While some problems with the railways had been reported by the Soviet press, the Soviet Union could boast of controlling one of the most electrified railway systems at the time [ citation needed ]. During much of the country's later lifespan, trains usually carried coal , oil , construction material mostly stone, cement and sand and timber.

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Oil and oil products were one of the key reasons for building railway infrastructure in Siberia in the first place. The efficiency of the railways improved over time, and by the s Soviet railways had become the most intensively used in the world. Most Soviet citizens did not own private transport , and if they did, it was difficult to drive long distances due to the poor conditions of many roads.

Another explanation has to do with Soviet policy, the first being the autarkic model created by Joseph Stalin 's regime. Stalin's regime instead of building major new railway lines decided instead to conserve, and later expand, much of the existing railways left behind by the Tsars. As industrial output declined in the lates so did the demand for transportation.

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The efficiency of the Soviet Railways improved over time and by the s had many performance indicators superior to the United States. This avoided the situation in the US where two or sometimes more railway companies would construct lines that more or less paralleled each other resulting in wasteful duplication of effort.

As a result of having a shorter rail system plus more freight traffic, the USSR had a freight traffic density in ton-km per km of line times higher than the US. It was claimed that labor productivity rose 4. The Soviet Union made the transition to automatic brakes and couplers model SA3 long after the United States did and as a result their brakes and couplers [43] were somewhat more advanced.


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Their air brakes could operate in a mode where it was possible to slowly reduce braking effort, while the US system required full release of the brakes in the entire train and reapplication of the brakes in order to reduce braking effort. It was claimed to be several times faster than non-Soviet tamping machinery of cyclical action. The railway system in the Soviet Union mostly after the s was utilized several times more intensively than the railways of developed capitalist countries. This happened in the s [49] and during the so-called Brezhnev stagnation starting in the late s and beyond.

In the President of the Council of Ministers of the USSR stated [50] that economists estimate that the failure of railways to provide adequate transportation, costs the Soviet economy billion roubles per year. For a railway line as a whole in one direction , one would use the average linear density along the whole line, where most points on the line have no trains on them and thus have zero density there.

One would also need to use the average velocity which turns out to be the weighted harmonic mean where the weights are the lengths of the various segments of the train run with the speed approximately constant on each segment. Another way to find the average velocity is to simply find the weighted arithmetic mean where the weights is this case are the times on each segment.

For a segment of a train run where the speed is very slow, the train thus spends a long time traversing this segment and thus the weight for this segment is quite high since it is weighted by time. Thus even thought the slow speed segments are only a small part of the trip, they may drastically reduce the average speed and thus the flow.

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So there are two basic ways to increase flow: 1. One way to significantly increase speed on a high traffic line is to reduce the number of times a train must stop or slow to allow other trains to pass, especially on a single track line where opposing trains must go past each other.

But the Automatic block signalling system tends to maintain a minimum distance between trains moving under the green signal aspect. On single track lines between passing sidings, trains can't travel in opposite directions at the same time. If they tried to do this, they would collide head on with each other if they were headed toward each other.

This poses a further restriction in train spacing. One expedient is to reduce the spacing between 2 or 3 trains to zero by running "connected" trains. The locomotive crews then coordinate their handing of the train by radio possibly using a special device to synchronize braking. This method was used in the Soviet Union mostly as a temporary expedient [54] especially in cases where a length of track was temporarily closed for maintenance work.

But on the Bratsk division of the BAM railroad, it was used as a standard method of operation in the s. Then opposing trains accumulate at such stations and the trains that accumulated at one end station then proceed down the rail line closely spaced a packet of trains while traffic in the opposite opposing direction is spread out and yields by hiding in the passing sidings to the packet so that the packet of trains can travel non-stop over a significant distance. Later on, a non-stop packet can be formed in the other direction, etc. Using packets to increase capacity was common in the USSR.

For the workers they installed showers, a shoe repair shop, a barber shop, a laundry, a small shop, a social club with a capacity for people, a lounge, and an art studio. They also provided improved amenities when workers travelled to work on remote sections of track and lived in sleeping cars.

Production esthetics included planting of greenery, [59] providing proper lighting and pleasant colours, [60] background music, sports area. Uniforms with grade insignia was introduced for rail workers during the period — The Soviet rapid transit system was seen as the cheapest way of urban transport , and eventually another point acquired greater significance; the authorities could allocate their resources from the automobile industry to the rapid transit sector and save a substantial volume of the country's diesel and petrol.

Because metros were cheaper to operate and less energy consuming, the Soviet authorities managed to construct 20 rapid transits nationwide, [70] with a further nine in construction when the Soviet Union collapsed. The Soviet Union was a pioneer in the development of the diesel locomotive to replace the steam locomotive dieselization on non-electrified lines.

But the USSR failed to make steady progress and while they lead the United States at first, they soon fell behind and their last steam locomotives were retired about 15 years later than for the US. The first mainline diesel locomotive in the world began running in in the USSR [73] but it had an excessive number of breakdowns so other designs of diesel locomotives were developed and used in desert regions where water for steam locomotives was scarce. Then in the small scale production only several units per year of diesel locomotives for desert use came to a halt [74] by order of Kaganovich, the head of the national railway committee NKPS [75] and a leading figure in the Communist party.

In the late s, Interest in diesel's was rekindled by reports from the US that production of diesel locomotives was overtaking production of steam locomotives. All were hp which in the US were primarily used for switching and for short trains but were suitable for mainline operation in the Soviet Union. But they didn't begin arriving in the USSR until the start of when the war was almost over. After the end of the war, the production of diesel locomotives , which had been curtailed in , was resumed [77] with the first locomotives appearing in The dimensions were converted to metric and sometimes modified, the Soviet system of air brakes were used, and the engine speeds at certain controller positions were changed.

The TE5 was just a variation of the TE1 and of minor significance. While the former Soviet Union got a late and slow start with rail electrification in the s it eventually became the world leader in electrification in terms of the volume of traffic under the wires. The Soviet Union had several railway colleges which graduated mostly engineers specializing in railway topics.

Most of them still exist. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in , railway traffic in Russia sharply declined [78] and new major electrification projects were not undertaken except for the line to Murmansk which was completed in The Soviet Union published a large number of books on railways. For just the last half of , titles were published.


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Some of these books were very short, perhaps only 15 pages. But many were a few hundred pages long and some were written as textbooks for use in railway classes in railway colleges. See details for additional description.

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