The Tsarskoselskaya Railway is the first Russian public railway running between St. Petersburg and Tsarskoe Selo. Until 1851 it was the only railway in the country and the 6th in the world. Its construction started on May 1, 1836 and took 18 months to complete.
On January 6, 1835, Franz Anton von Gerstner, an Austrian engineer sent a letter to the Russian Emperor Nicholas I proposing to construct a railway network in Russia. Von Gerstner had perfect qualifications for the project since he had been the engineer of the first public railway on the European continent – the Danube-Moldavia line. He wrote about the advantages, which railway construction had brought to other countries. Von Gerstner gave the examples of American railways to show that they could operate under severe weather conditions in the winter. He also emphasized that due to Russia’s geography, railways would benefit the country’s economy. The relatively flat terrain made railways easy to build and the large distances made them profitable to operate. To convince the Emperor, von Gerstner proposed to build an experimental line from St. Petersburg to Tsarskoe Selo. According to the project, the railway was to start near the center of the Russian capital, travel along the Obvodnyi Canal and then lead to Pavlovsk Park in Tsarskoe Selo. The Obvodnyi Canal would be crossed by a bridge. The route would be a straight line with only one curve.
On March 21, 1836, the plan was approved. Von Gerstner had promised that the line would be completed by October 1, 1836. He immediately left for Europe to order locomotives, cars, rails, and other equipment. He chose the best manufacturers and insisted on high quality despite added costs.
When von Gerstner returned, earthworks were underway and bridges were being erected. The forest on either side of the line was cleared to 420 feet out, the swampy areas were drained and embankments were built. The large bridge over the Obvodniy Canal was being constructed slowly due to the size and location of the bridge, but the other 34 bridges were erected rather quickly.
By the end of 1836, eight kilometers of track had been laid down. The track was constructed with the heaviest cast iron rails available. The wooden sleepers were treated with tar1 to prevent them from decay. Special measures were taken to ensure that the tracks would not be damaged by winter freezes and thaws. Everything was done to the highest possible quality.
Although none of the locomotives had arrived by the October 1 deadline, von Gerstner demonstrated the line on September 27. Horses were used to pull two trains of two carriages each along the 3 km. Trials were also held on the two following Sundays with great success. By November, several locomotives had been delivered and were ready to be tested. On November 3, 1836, one of the locomotives pulled 5 carriages up and down the completed sections of the line.
The official opening of the Tsarskoe Selo Railway took place on October 30, 1837. Many guests of honor, including Emperor Nicholas I, and a crowd of curious spectators attended the ceremony. Driven by von Gerstner, the Provornyi locomotive pulled 8 passenger cars from St. Petersburg to Tsarskoe Selo, reaching the top speed of 64 kmh on one section of the track. That day, it took a train 35 minutes to cover 23 km.
After the inauguration, regular service between St. Petersburg and Tsarskoe Selo began. Initially, trains were drawn by horses and only on Sundays by steam engines; but after April 4, 1838, steam power was used exclusively.
Note: 1tar – смола
Ex. 16. Each of the sentences below is followed by two paraphrases. Decide which paraphrase (a or b) is closer in meaning to the original statement.
1. Von Gerstner gave the examples of American railways to show that they could operate under severe weather conditions in the winter.
a) Von Gerstner wanted to prove that railways could operate in the winter because climate in Russia resembles that on the American continent.
b) Von Gerstner wrote Emperor Nicholas I about American Railways to prove that railway construction in Russia would be successful.
2. Von Gerstner emphasized that due to its geography Russia would benefit from railways.
a) Von Gerstner focused on the benefits Russia would have from railways due to its geography.
b) Von Gerstner focused on the Russia’s geography because it was difficult to build railways under severe winter conditions.
3. Von Gerstner chose the best manufacturers and insisted on high quality despite added costs.
a) Von Gerstner wanted only expensive locomotives to be used on Russian railways.
b) Von Gerstner did not want to buy cheap but inefficient locomotives.
4. The large bridge over the Obvodniy Canal went up slowly due the size and location of the bridge, but the other 34 bridges were erected rather quickly.
a) The Obvodniy Canal was crossed by 34 bridges; therefore it took a lot of time to erect these bridges.
b) The Obvodniy Canal was very large as compared to other 34 bridges.
5. Many guests of honor, including Emperor Nicholas I, and a crowd of curious spectators attended the ceremony.
a) Many visiting dignitaries were present at the inauguration of the railway because they wanted to see the Emperor.
b) Emperor Nicholas I was one of the celebrities attending the official opening of the Tsarskoe Selo Railway.