Here comes the BAM, now where’s the Boom!


The Trans-Siberian railroad was an enormous feat for Russia when it was built. The 5000 miles of railroad stretched across the tundra of Russia to connect one end of the largest country in the world with the other. It opened up new trading possibilities and was a way to transport goods that before were unreachable. Stalin tried to expand this railroad during his rule.

standard first ticket

The BAM or Baikal-Amur Mainline started construction under Stalin, but did not finish until 1991 with the fall of the Soviet Union. The mainline was a secondary railway that sprouts off the Trans-Siberian railroad and extends for two thousand miles. The BAM is north of the Tran-Siberian railroad. The mainline is known to be very scenic as the writer Finn-Olaf Jones attested. She is awed by the tundra of the Siberia as the train travels. She said that she “couldn’t imagine another place in the world that could be more pristine.”

inside meeting first train

The Baikal-Amur Mainline progressed well through the first years of its construction, but with the death of Stalin the amount of funding and work that was put into it dwindled. The project was not restarted until Brezhnev took power in 1974. The mainline was completed only 10 years later, though not all of the railroad was functional. The plans that Brezhnev had for the mainline were revolutionary with an electrified double track, though it was sized down to a single track due to funding. The labor and environmental costs were staggering.

The pollution that the construction of the BAM caused to the terrain of the forest and Lake Baikal were irreversible. Lake Baikal was the largest clean body of water that the world had known, until the pollution from construction waste turned the water murky. The construction of the city, Severobaikalsk, caused environmental problems. This city was mainly used to house personnel that were working on the mainline.


Earlier in the year, Putin promised to brighten the future for the railway. This month, Putin is looking to reinvesting in the BAM. The government would be investing $14.3 billion to upgrade the BAM with the hope of doubling the cargo capacity of the trains by 2020. This investment would be one of the biggest projects that Russia has seen in the past 10 years. The upgrade would cover, as the article stated “4,324 kilometers.”

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The coverup of a Massacre

The summer of 1962 was difficult for the Russian people and workers due to the increase in food prices. Workers from Novocherkassk Electric Locomotive Works spoke out against the rise in prices, but were met with hostility. There were guards outside of the Communist Party headquarters in Novocherkassk where the protests came to make their petitions heard. The protesters did not stop when the commander of the troops warned them and the troops opened fire on the civilians. Reports have said that twenty-four people died and many were wounded and many were arrested.


The authorities that were fearful of a revolt attempted a cover up of the shooting. The workers that were in protest did not provoke the soldier by throwing mud or stones or trying to take their weapons. The workers were protesting peacefully and the troops were given the order to open fire upon them. According to the official report, twenty-three died. Fifteen were identified and the rest still remain unknown.


Many years later as the Soviet Union started to crumble, the public found out about the coverup. An investigation was opened to uncover the truth about what happened. The investigation uncovered that there were seventeen deaths at the protests in the city square, another five during the demonstrators’ attack on the city police department, and another two were shot during curfew. All of these killings were covered up. The official report said that the bodies were dumped outside the city in abandoned cemeteries and in huge mass graves.

Many people have eye witness account of the events that happened in June 1962. They did not come out until after the story was leaked to the public. Now the world knows about the Novocherkassk Massacre that ensued during a protest for a better standard of living and the coverup which took over twenty years to be uncovered.  A monument was built there after the investigation was finished.


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