Let’s start the trip on rails
As soon as I arrive at the railway station of Ulan-Ude, the atmosphere of the Trans-Siberian caught me immediately. From the overpass I can see a wonderful steam locomotive on my left side while on the right side, people are already waiting on track number 1 the train that will arrive soon. My train is the number 12Y (12Ӣ in Russian) that follows a variant of the main Trans-Siberian route since it leaves from Samara, on the river Volga and, in the end, reaches Vladivostok after almost one full week of travel (6 days and 11 hours, to be precise). Therefore, here, in Ulan-Ude, this train is about halfway of its trip, having spent already 3,5 days on the cold rails of Russian Winter. In this right moment, the thermometer on the station building marks -16°, quite warmer than the -31° I’ve found at my arrival at the airport yesterday morning. Luckily I didn’t arrive so much earlier and so after few minutes the train does its triumphal entry in the station as you may see from the animated image here on the right. I don’t have to hurry, the train will remain in the station for 25 minutes. During this time, some maintenance is done, as you may see in the small picture above.
Boarding procedure is fast. Usually the “conductor” (train steward or more often, stewardess) just check for the id, in my case, the passport. In the car there are three or four people and none in my compartment. This time I bought a ticket for a two-places berth but it looks like I will have the entire room for me. Very unlikely, in fact, another passenger will arrive since, before Chita, the train will stop in small towns. The biggest is Khilok, in Zabaykalsky Krai, a town with about 10 thousands inhabitants where the time zone will change, moving forward to MSK+6. The small table on the right side displays all details about this trip. I’m wearing the mask but as soon as I reach my place I remove it. Being alone has this additional benefit during a pandemic. Train is almost ready to start and the aisle of the car remains empty as you may see in the picture. I’m sitting by the window giving my last look at Ulan Ude and finally the train moves. You may see the first minute of trip in the video below. To keep reading about the trip and see some “freezing” pictures, follow this link.