Day 9

Friday 26th February

Last night we stopped at Novosibirsk for wheel checks, removal of ice and a change of engine.

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One member of the team saw the grand station which is described as a ‘real temple’ of the Trans- Siberian Railway. Here the sky was clear and the stars were visible. However, just before daybreak we arrived at Mariinsk, a Siberian gold rush town, which had been covered by fresh snow. For the rest of today we saw track maintenance crews working with snow over their boots to clear the track, points and the overhead electric cables. There were also giant snow clearing trains in use though they preceded our train.

Yesterday the snow had been frozen by low temperatures and polished by the wind so that when illuminated by sunshine the landscape represented a sponge cake with white icing and silver balls. Today, however, it is covered with soft wetter snow which clings to the coniferous trees but is blown around by our passing train.

IMG_4173IMG_4192 IMG_4194 A little before Krasnoyarsk we passed the halfway point between Moscow and Beijing at 10:15 a.m. The next major stop was Krasnoyarsk at 13:00 local time which is now 4 hours ahead of Moscow. Here the wheels were again checked, ice and snow removed from near the brakes and a fresh load of coal delivered to each carriage for the samovar.
During the day the temperature reached 3C for it seems we are following the snow frontal system across the continent and not experiencing yet extremely cold daytime temperatures. As we write though at 21:00 (now 5 hours ahead of Moscow) it is well below freezing, so much so that as one empties the toilet onto the track below, when the contents of the pan meet the super cooled air under the train (caused by the wind chill of the fast moving train) a cloud of water vapour enters the toilet. One of the team has observed that the colder it is the bigger the cloud of water vapour!!

Snow and ice coat the connections between each carriage. The windows are getting dirtier. Tomorrow morning should see us approach Lake Baikal and Mongolia.


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