Exploring Saint Petersburg’s abandoned Varshavsky station

During my stay in Saint Petersburg, I tried to visit the collection of Russian trains at the Oktyabrskaya Railway Museum, but it was closed for the New Year holiday. However my venture to the outskirts of the city was not in vain, as the unguarded remains of Varshavsky vokzal (Varshavsky station) was still there to explore.

Looking down the abandoned platforms to the main station building

The first railway station on the site was built in 1851, as the city terminus of the line to the Tsar’s residence in Gatchina. The building currently found on the site was built between 1857 and 1860, and by 1862 the railway had been extended as far west as Warsaw, which led to the station’s alternate name – Warsaw station.

In 2001 Varshavsky station closed to passengers, with long distance trains being moved to the more centrally located Vitebsky railway station, while commuter services were moved next door to Baltiysky station. As for the train shed and station building, they were converted into the Warsaw Express shopping centre, which opened in 2005.

Main station building, since converted into a shopping complex

Some of the open air platforms were turned over to the Oktyabrskaya Railway Museum.

More exhibits at the open air October Railroad Museum in Saint Petersburg

However others have been left abandoned.

Abandoned platforms beside the railway museum

Looming overhead was a tall brick water tower, which was erected in the late-19th century.

Abandoned locomotive workshops and water tower

Apparently the view from the top is something to see, provided you are game enough to climb the rickety wooden staircase, according to the local railfan that my girlfriend bumped into while I was busy taking photos!

With my other half concerned about me cracking my head open, I stuck to exploring things back at ground level.

Trashed office building

However the deep drifts of snow made walking around difficult.

Abandoned locomotive sheds beside the railway museum

As did the railway lines hidden beneath.

Point indicator and throw lever in the snow

I found a decrepit looking goods warehouse alongside the tracks.

Goods shed on the eastern side of the railway yard

Some buildings were locked up tight.

Another abandoned railway workshop building

Others were not.

Open door into an abandoned warehouse

With the door already open, there was nothing to stop me wandering inside to take a look.

More junk litters the inside of the offices

A mix of paperwork and rubbish littered the abandoned offices.

Inside a trashed office

There were also a number of larger workshops – spartan brick boxes built to service diesel locomotives.

Three storey train shed waiting to be explored

Anything of value had been stripped out already.

Inside one of the abandoned locomotive sheds

With only a few pieces of signage hanging on the walls.

Next inspection - 1987?

Along with discarded safety flyers.

Overhead electrification safety flyer for the Russian Railways

And load lifting instructions.

Load lifting instructions (in Russian of course)

I lost track of the number of locomotive sheds that I explored.

Double track shed beside the locomotive depot

Inside they all seemed the same.

Inside the abandoned locomotive shed

Though some were more well lit than others.

Inspection pit in the abandoned locomotive shed

Towards the back of the station I found an abandoned turntable and locomotive servicing facility.

Abandoned turntable and locomotive servicing facility

As well as an incredibly ornate looking freight shed.

Heritage listed goods shed at the south end of the station

It seemed to stretch on forever, and was located beside the track fan that connected the former station into the mainline railway.

Snow covers the track fan at the southern end

The Wikimapia entry for the building says that it was erected in 1898, and was listed as a ‘Object of Cultural Heritage’ by the Committee on State Control, Use and Protection of Monuments of History and Culture of St. Petersburg (КГИОП) by order № 15 on February 20, 2001.

Footnote

A look at the current Google Maps imagery shows a very different Varshavsky station to the one I explored back in 2012, with only a handful of buildings still remaining.

I eventually found the answer on the website of Saint Petersburg’s ‘Living City’ preservationist group – the area was cleared for a high rise housing development in early 2013, but not before the arrest of 19 activists who had been fighting to protect the heritage listed buildings.

Further reading

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