Transport in Russia during the last 100 years
By the beginning of XX century Russian transport system included traditional types of cart and water transport, poorly developed network of main roads and intensely developing railroad transport. Other types of transport (automobile, electric etc) were incipient.
Starting from the beginning of XX century and prior to the involvement of Russia into WW I in August 1914, the railroad transport system had been actively developing. In 1913, it took 74% of all cargoes. The railroad transport system required numerous investments – from 1903 to 1913 2002 million rubles were invested in this field. For comparison: 2230 million rubles were allocated for the entire industry, while the costs of all Russian river and marine merchant ships (steam– and sail boats) together with investments into inner water passages had not reached 700 million rubles by the beginning of the war. At the same time, the state was the largest proprietor of transport means, especially in the field of railroad traffic. Thus, 75,1% of all commercial cargoes in 1913 were transported using the state railroads. The development of automobile transport in Russia happened at about the same time. During 1909–1917 Russia imported 39440 automobiles and 600 automobiles were produced inside the country. In the beginning of XX century the air transport started to be developed. About 300 airplanes were functioning in the second decade of XX century. Aviation was not yet used in economic activities, with the exception of mail transport.
WW I and the Civil war had had a profound devastating effect on transport facilities – more than 60% of railroads, 90% of steam locomotives and 80% of cars became non–operational. In 1920 the situation somewhat improved. 9377 steam locomotives were repaired, 197 kilometers of new railroads were built, 978 railroad bridges were repaired. But in general, by the end of the Civil war the average daily run of cars and steam locomotives (cargo or passenger) decreased by more than three times, railroad transportation decreased to the level of 1890–s, while water transportation – to the level of 80-s of XIX century and in 1920 constituted respectively 30,4 and 24,3% of that in 1913. The marine transportation constituted 21,4% of that in 1913.
Peaceful life and introduction of the New Economic Policy (NEP) in 1921 facilitated the recovery of the industrial potential of the country, although having been rebuilt in the framework of the old technical infrastructure. 3835 km of new railroads were built and became operational by the end of 1926. Import of steam locomotives as well as their national production increased greatly (including more powerful ones – freight of the series “E” and “L”, passenger “SU”), the first marine transport ships were built, 4004 were imported and 492 automobiles were produced in the country etc. As a result: the share of functional steam locomotives exceeded 55%, and freight cars – 85%; 353 autonomous river ships and 379 barges were reconstructed etc. In 1924, the world first diesel locomotive was built on the project of Prof. Ya.M.Gakkel. The first Russian electric railroad Baku –Sarakhani 19 km long began its operation in July 1926. The appearance of regular aerial connections occurred at about the same time. Nevertheless, by the end of the restoration period transportation figures did not reach those known before the war, although technical means of transportation were used more rationally. Horse transport still played an important role in the country. Average cost of one ton/kilometer of horse transportation was 65–70 kopecks versus about 1,5 kopecks on railroads. However in Moscow city in 1926, automobiles carried only a half of all cargoes. However, due to lack of roads and absence of national machine-building base only 1% of all cargoes carried by mechanized transport was done by automobiles.
The state plan of electrification of Russia (GOELRO), developed by the end of 1920, mainly determined the further development of transport. According to the GOELRO plan “the single transport system, encompassing railroads and a network of marine and river passages, should become the basis for radical reconstruction of industry”. It was planned to provide electricity for 3500 km of railroads and simultaneously to build 25 000–30 000 km of new railroads. It was also planned to decrease the costs of transportation and to increase the road capacity of transport.
By 1941, 1870 km of railroads had been electrified – which was slightly more than half of the amount, planned for 10–15 year period according to the GOELRO plan. New types of locomotives (all equipped with automatic coupling), including electric locomotives “ VL–19” and “VL–22” (“Vladimir Lenin”), more powerful and modern cargo and passenger cars (refrigerators, tank–cars, dump–cars, electric cars etc.) started to be produced. Consequently, the most important figures of the efficiency of railroad transportation increased
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