Soviet Union Information Bureau



THE railways of the Soviet Union in the fiscal year 1926-27 carried 22 per cent more freight in ton-kilometers than in 1913 and the length of tracks was 30 per cent greater.

The restoration of the railways has been one of the largest asks completed by the Soviet State. During the World War md the civil strife about one-fourth of the total trackage was lestroyed and also 7,762 railway bridges. By the end of [919 there were hardly 4,000 good order locomotives in the ountry. Up to 1922 the traffic carried was less than a third )f the pre-war volume.

The railways are run by the Commissariat for Transport, ave for a few lines built and run by large foreign concesionaries for the purpose of developing their concessions.

The total railway mileage at the close of 1927-28 was 47,941 miles. It was 47,320 miles at the close of 1926-27, 2,500 miles in 1917 and 36,500 miles in 1913.

The sums invested for new equipment and new lines during ecent years, and the allotment for 1927-28, are as follows, in millions of rubles:

  New Equipment New Lines Total
1923-24 54 1 55
1924-25 70 17 87
1925-26 166 27 193
1926-27 190 37 227
1927-28 325 65 390

Most important of the new lines now in construction is the Turkestan-Siberian railway, 1,481 kilometers (920 miles) long, which was begun early in 1927. The road will connect it the cotton-growing regions of Central Asia with the grain producing lands in Siberia. The road will cost $100,000,000. It will be completed in 1931. At present grain from Siberia has to travel 3,000 kilometers to reach the Central Asian cotton belt. The new line will cut the distance to 1,200 kilometers. The road will also bring timber, coal, iron and other materials to Central Asia. The completion of the road will give a great boom to grain growing in Siberia, and will increase the cotton crops in Turkestan. The annual freight turnover of the new road during its first few years is estimated at 1,410,000 metric tons. Over one-third of the line, about 500 kilometers, was completed by the close of 1928.

During 1927 a somewhat higher schedule of railway rates was placed in operation. The rates are now 143 per cent of those of 1914.

During the past few years the railways have been operated at a profit. The figures, in millions of rubles:

  Operating Revenue Operating Expenditures Net Profit
1924-25 907.6 764.0 143.6
1925-26 1,285.8 1,108.0 177.8
1926-27 1,491.8 1,264.0 227.8

The following are comparative statistics on passenger am freight traffic:

Passenger Traffic
  1913 1924-25 1925-26 1926-27
Passengers carried (millions)   211.8 262.7 254.3
Passenger kilometers (millions) 25,220 19,040 23,402 21,953
Freight Traffic
Metric tons (millions) 83.1 116.8 135.9
Ton kilometers (millions) 65,695 47,414 69,184 82,607

The average daily run for freight cars was 79.3 kilometers in 1926-27 as compared with 75 kilometers in 1913. Average run for freight locomotives was 129.8 kilometers in 1926-27, as compared with 119 kilometers in 1913. Percentage of high power locomotives to total number was 48 per cent in 1926-27 as compared with 27 per cent in 1913.

Percentage of bad order locomotives in 1926-27 was 17 per cent, passenger cars 13 per cent, freight cars, per cent. In 1921 the percentages reached respectively 62, 48 and 33.

Average daily freight car loadings:

1924-25 17,398
1925-26 24,007
1926-27 27,868
1927-28 31,185

The average make-up of freight trains in 1926-27 was 94.26 axles; in 1913 it was 78.8 axles.

By the beginning of 1926 the importation of rolling stock virtually ceased. In 1926-27 the number of new locomotives built in Soviet plants was 364.

Average number workers employed on railway system:

1923-24 715,000
1924-25 720,000
1925-26 840,000
1926-27 863,000

Average monthly wages of railway workers, in rubles:

1923-24 32.80
1924-25 44.50
1925-26 60.93
1926-27 69.39

Passenger service in respect to speed of trains, comfort, etc., s well up to pre-war standard. Trains are divided into three groups, local, "accelerated" and express, the last-named scheduled to travel at a speed of from o to 6o kilometers an hour. Excess fare of 25 per cent is charged on express trains.

To assist in the financing of new railway lines the Commissariat for Transport was authorized late in 1927 to issue an internal loan of 60,000,000 rubles. The loan bears interest at 9 per cent and is redeemable within five and a half years.

Air TRANSPORT.- Air transport has made great strides in the Soviet Union during the past few years. The progress in aviation has been greatly assisted by the activities of Osoaviakhim, the Soviet Union Air League, which has a membership of 3,500,000.

In 1928, 11,971 kilometers of air routes, for passengers, freight and mail, were in regular operation. The larger cities in the European portion of the Soviet Union are connected by these lines. Others connect the Trans-Siberian railway with remote points, facilitating greatly the transport of passengers and mail. Moscow and Leningrad are linked with the European air services. Lines run to Persia and Afghanistan. A new Moscow-Verkhne-Udinsk-Peking line, projected last year, was deferred because of the unsettled conditions in China.

Regular commercial airplane service was inaugurated in 1922. The progress year by year is shown in the following table:

  Length of lines (kilometers) Total Flights (kilometers) Passengers carried Mail and freight (kilograms)
1922 1200 134,000 276 13,750
1923 1610 377,710 1,433 27,885
1924 4400 541,764 2,618 48,309
1925 4984 894,539 3,398 76,789
1926 6392 1,313,130 4,035 84,56'
1927 7022 1,817,952 7,079 170,381
1928 11,971 2,383,430 8,653 221,700

There are three operating companies: Deruluft, a mixed German-Soviet concern; Dobrolot, and Ukrvozdukhput, the last the Ukrainian State Company.

The eleven principal trunk lines operated by the three companies follow:

Deruluft runs two lines, Moscow to Smolensk, Riga, Koenigsberg and Berlin, and Leningrad to Reval and Riga, with daily service except Sunday.

The Dobrolot has six lines, as follows:

1. Tashkent to Termez, to Dushembe, four times weekly.
2. Tashkent to Termez, to Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, twice monthly.
3. Charjui to Khiva, in Turkestan, six days a week.
4. Frunze to Alma-Ata. four times a week.
5. Verkhne-Udinsk, in Siberia, to Urga, the capital of Mon;olia, four times a week.
6. Irkutsk to Yakutsk, twice weekly, a flight of 2,700 kilometers across desolate Northeastern Siberia.

The Ukrvozdukhput runs these three lines:

1. Moscow to Kharkov, to Pyatigorsk, in North Caucasia, six days a week.
2. Pyatigorsk to Vladikavkaz to Baku on the Caspian Sea, ;ix days a week.
3. Baku to Pehlevi, a Persian port on the Caspian, to teheran, the capital of Persia, twice weekly.

Rates are low. Deruluft planes transport one between Moscow and Berlin for $70 in twelve hours. The railroad fare, first class, is over $60 for a 42-hour trip. The internal routes are at the same scale or lower.

In the spring of 1929 Dobrolot plans to open regular service in the most extensive Soviet air line yet organized, from Moscow to Irkutsk, about 3,000 miles.

(For data on Water Transport, see section on Merchant Fleet.)

AUTOMOBILE TRANSPORT.- While automobile buses are increasing rapidly in the larger cities of the U.S.S.R., the scarcity of good roads is a handicap to inter-city traffic. The total length of roads suitable for automobile traffic was estimated at o,000 kilometers in 1927. Most of the older roads are common dirt lanes, unfit for motor cars during most of the year. A movement for the development of modern highways has recently gained great momentum and promises to transform the road situation in the next few years.

There are only 21,000 automobiles in the Soviet Union. By far the greater part of these have been imported. Up to the present time home production of cars has been negligible, though two or three plants, notably the AMO plant in Moscow, have been turning out some motor trucks.

Plans for an intensive development in motor car construction are now under way.

A society, Avtodor (Automobiles and Roads) was organized in Moscow late in 1927 to promote the introduction of more automobiles and the building of better highways. It is conducting a campaign for mass production of automobiles in Soviet plants and discussing methods of financing large scale importations. It is also pushing a comprehensive campaign for the construction of key highways and the spread of bus lines between cities.

It is planned to spend $750,000,000 on highway construction, from federal and local budgets, during the next five years.