Why did the train stop to close the bridge?

On Facebook I recently came across a video of a train coming to a halt, so that a man could swing a piece of track into place before it could then proceed. So what is the story behind it?

The original poster didn’t have any idea – it was a Facebook Page called “Emmanuella Mark Angel Comedy Video (fk Comedy)” that stole the video from YouTube.

The comments from other Facebook users didn’t help either:

Waste of precious time, why cant they automate the whole thing

This so called track bridge doesn’t make sense. They could have fixed a gates on either side of the road.

What is the point? Why don’t they just leave it in position?

But some people were switched on:

The train crosses a canal on the turntable bridge then crosses the road. They close the canal then close the road

Too funny all these people here acting like we Dutchies are still stuck in medieval times …jumping to conclusions based on one video without bothering to investigate what this really is (a museum line).

Veendam it is

With those leads and plenty of digging around on Wikipedia, I found the Stadskanaal–Zuidbroek railway:

The Stadskanaal–Zuidbroek railway is a railway line in the Netherlands running from Stadskanaal to Zuidbroek, passing through Veendam. The line was opened in 1910 and closed in 1953. The Veendam-Zuidbroek part of the line was reopened in 2011 by STAR and used as a museum line, run with mostly steam trains.

The operator – Stichting Stadskanaal Rail:

The Stichting Stadskanaal Rail, known as Museum Railway STAR, was established on 26 June 1992 with the aim of maintaining the historic Veendam – Stadskanaal – Musselkanaal railway line and operating a tourist railway on this route.

And the train – a Nederlandse Spoorwegen DM 90, nicknamed ‘Buffel’.

The NS Class 3400 was a series of diesel multiple unit built by Duewag, Talbot and SIG between 1996 and 1998. The class is referred to as DM’90 meaning diesel rolling stock (Diesel Materieel in Dutch) of the 1990s or Buffel, which means Buffalo. Class 3400 were the last DMUs in service with NS, the older DE3 (“Plan U”) and DH1/2 (“Wadloper”) series having been replaced by the diesel electric Stadler GTW which are still in use with other operators in the Netherlands. Since January 2018, all units are now stored out of service and most have been sold to Romania.

Which eventually led me to the original video on YouTube.

Last Ride of NS DM 90 passes a railway bridge in Veendam.

The farewell ride stops in front of the swing bridge (honking a lot) and the train stops so that the swing bridge can be closed and the HBKI level crossing can be switched on, after which he whistles off to Veendam museum station where a short stop took place.

Date: 10/14/2017

Media attention too

Local television station RTV1 covered the trip to Stadskanaal.

Via Google Translate:

Exactly at 8 minutes past three, he arrives at a quiet pace on Saturday afternoon, October 14, at the Musselkanaal station: the DM ’90 diesel train, better known by its nickname “Buffalo”. The train was first used by the Dutch Railways in the mid-90s. However, due to electrification of the track, it was used less and less. Currently, the train set only commutes from Zwolle to Enschede and to Kampen, the so-called “Kamperlijntje”. But since this line has now been electrified, we will say goodbye to the “Buffalo” at the end of this year.

As a farewell ride, the train made an extra long ride on 14 October for train lovers from Zwolle to Stadskanaal and back. After first stopping at the STAR in Stadskanaal, the station of Musselkanaal also received a visit from the “Buffalo” at three o’clock on Saturday afternoon. And just like on a number of other platforms, train enthusiasts were able to take extensive photos of the train here.

It is not yet clear what will happen to the “Buffalo”, but it is clear that the end of this year will be over for the diesel train.

Report: Boelo Lutgert

As did broadcaster RTV Noord:

More than two hundred train enthusiasts want to make the best shot, so there is a strong call to the people in the way.

Train hobbyists Mart van der Wijk and Enrico Schreurs have been following the train route all day by car to take pictures. For Schreurs, Stadskanaal was the best photo opportunity of the day. “The train sets have never been there before and it is a recognisable point for me,” says the train hobbyist.

Finding the bridge

Following the railway via the eye in the sky that is Google Maps, I found the bridge in question.

And Google Street View provided a better look at the canal that lead to the swing bridge being provided.

From this angle the need for a swing bridge is obvious – with only a metre of clearance between the waterline and the rails, it would be impossible for a boat to pass under without it!


Turns out there are plenty of other manually operated swing bridges on the Stadskanaal–Zuidbroek railway – this is just one.

And the copyright infringement never ends

I’ve just come across the same video on Facebook a second time, but stolen by a different page – ‘OMG Videos’. Their useless caption:

This isn’t what i thought

Welcome to the cesspit that is Facebook.

Posted in Trains | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How do trains change to daylight savings time?

Timekeeping is something that railways take seriously – but what happens to trains when the clocks changes from ‘normal’ time to daylight savings, and an hour is either lost or gained?

Our departure from Bucharest: 205 minutes late and counting...


Deutsche Bahn cancel trains due to run in the ‘missing’ hour, while overnight trains just keep on running.

ICE 3 train arrives into Würzburg Hbf

From Spiegel Online, via Google Translate.

Time change at the train

Daylight saving time starts on the night of Sunday. A railway spokesman explains how the 12,000 station clocks are changed – and why suburban trains are cancelled.

Spiegel Online: Would Deutsche Bahn like to abolish the time change?

Stauß: We have arranged ourselves well with that. They have been around for many years – it’s been routine for us for a long time. The total of 12,000 station clocks are already centrally controlled, and the conversion works flawlessly.

Spiegel Online: But trains do not get a problem when the night is suddenly one hour shorter than on Saturday?

Stauß: For the trains that drive this night, we have to take that into account in the timetable. This works well, and the costs are limited.

Spiegel Online: Do not the trains have any delay?

Stauß: The impact on customers is very low because there are hardly any passenger trains in the middle of the night. The night trains usually have longer stays anyway, so-called travel times buffers that they use that night. Some commuter trains are also missing. The S-Bahn, for example, scheduled to start at 2.15 clock, just does not drive, because the hour at night, yes, does not exist.

Spiegel Online: And what about freight trains?

Stauß: In fact, they drive a lot at night, but here too the time change is unproblematic. On the one hand because of the time buffers in the timetables, on the other hand, because a possible later arrival of the goods at the customer on a non-working Sunday is usually not as serious as on a working day.


The same thing happens for French rail operator SNCF (via Google Translate).

At the start of summer time, the night Intercités roll and try to recover a few minutes on their schedule to get closer to the theoretical time but will arrive late at the arrival station.

At the end of winter time, the Intercités at night stop at a station between 2 and 3 am and arrive at the scheduled time at their destination station.


Dutch railfan website Treinenweb explains how Nederlandse Spoorwegen deals with the change.

The railways and the summer and winter time

In the night of last Saturday on Sunday, summer time started again and we were allowed to move the clock one hour forward. A pressing question that we regularly hear is: How do the night trains run during these time differences in summer and winter? And what does the station clock do? We have sorted it out ….

Summer time

As soon as daylight saving time starts and the clock moves forward by an hour, the train will be canceled from 2:04 AM as an example, because after 1:59 AM the clock will automatically advance to 3:00 AM. In this case nothing special changes to the train number.

Winter time

In the night when the summer time goes to winter time, there is therefore an extra hour, and so two trains run at the same time, but then at the moment that the summer time passes to the winter time. An extra train is then simply inserted. This then departs at 2.04 a.m. and in the new time difference an hour later also at 2:04 a.m.


But for the Trans Siberian things get really complicated.

ЧС2Т class electric locomotive ЧС2Т 954 ready to lead our train out of Saint Petersburg

As explained by The Man in Seat 61:

Russian trains used to run to Moscow time whilst in Russia, even if local time was 7 hours ahead of Moscow. However, but RZD Russian Railways ended this century-old practice from August 2018 and now use local time in all their timetables and booking systems.

Fun with time zones…

Russia made Daylight Saving Time (DST) permanent in 2011 making Moscow GMT+4 all year round but in 2014 they changed their minds and abolished it altogether, so Moscow is now GMT+3 all year round. So China is now permanently 5 hours ahead of Moscow as they too have no DST. Mongolia was also permanently 5 hours ahead of Moscow and on the same time as Beijing, until the Mongolians changed their minds and reintroduced DST in March 2015 making them GMT+8 (Moscow +5, Beijing+0) in winter but GMT+9 (Moscow+6, Beijing+1) in summer. But in 2017 they’ve changed their minds again and have once more abolished DST so Mongolia is now GMT+8 or Moscow time +5 all year round.

Until someone changes their mind again, of course.

Clear as mud?

Simpler times ahead?

The European Union is set to abandon daylight saving time in 2021 – with Feargus O’Sullivan from CityLab explaining why:

After years of discussion, members of the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly in March 2019 to abolish the practice of turning the clocks forward and back by one hour each spring and autumn.

While this is a significant pronouncement for a parliament that doesn’t get much coverage, the real force behind the decision lies elsewhere—not just in Europe’s national governments, but specifically in their transportation ministers.

In a largely borderless union where many airports, some major railway stations, and even a few public transit systems serve more than one country, the potential for transit chaos from mismatching clocks is substantial.

“It would make no sense if Germany or Hungary and Italy and Austria had different time systems,” said Austrian Transport Minister Norbert Hofer to newspaper Die Welt.

And elsewhere in the world

In America Amtrak trains do the same ‘wait an hour’ trick when daylight savings time ends.

Fall and spring time changes

Amtrak operates according to prevailing local time, either standard time or daylight saving time. At the spring time change (second Sunday in March), Amtrak trains travelling overnight will become one hour late and will attempt to make up the time. At the fall time change (first Sunday in November), Amtrak trains travelling overnight will normally hold at the next station after the time change then depart on time. Arizona does not observe daylight saving time. Please observe footnotes in schedules for trains serving Arizona to determine your departure or arrival time.

While in Australia interstate rail operator NSW TrainLink just keeps running their trains on NSW time when they cross the border into Queensland, a state that doesn’t observe daylight savings time.

Southbound XPT outside Menangle passes through the countryside

Posted in Trains | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Moscow’s deepest metro station at Park Pobedy

The Moscow Metro is known for deep stations, but Парк Победы (Park Pobedy) is the winner – at 73 metres underground it is the deepest station in the city, and third deepest in the world by mean depth.

Type 81-740.1/741.1 "Rusich" train arrives into Парк Победы

Underground there are two separate island platforms.

Northern platform for outbound trains

With mirrored colour schemes.

Enameled panel by Zurab Tsereteli depicting the Patriotic War of 1812

Linked by a staircase over the central set of tracks.

Interchange walkways between the two station halls

Intended to provide cross platform interchange to passengers, at the time of my visit one half of each island platform was blocked off.

Unused platform blocked off from the public

But these tracks are now in use, following the extension of the Kalininsko–Solntsevskaya line in 31 January 2014.

And the escalators

As you might expect for a deep station.

Blast doors at the transitions between station hall and escalator adit

It’s a long escalator ride to the top.

Climbing out of the station on the 126 metre long escalator

But that isn’t all – once you reach the top, a second much smaller escalator takes you the final leg to the ticket gates.

One set of escalators done, with a much shorter set still to go

So how many steps are there?

Each step is numbered, and I spotted step #687 on my visit.

687 steps in this escalator!

But Wikipedia gives a different figure.

It also contains the longest escalators in Europe, each one is 126 metres (413 ft) long and has 740 steps.

I’m confused!

And more debate

The Wikipedia talk page for Park Pobedy opens up another can of worms:

Please, read, what I wrote in Russian Wikipedia. I found a mistake, which is coping from one newspaper to another. We don’t know, who and how counted the depth as 84 meters, but it’s completely incorrect information.

I found 3 reliable sources, which showed that the main escalator is shorter than 65 meters (one is the sources says it’s 63,4 meters, and it looks like a correct information). Then I found reliable source with information about a small escalator and an elevator. Everybody can use his own eyes and even a ruler to check the information (there are stairs near from the escalator and elevator). If you add the dimensions up, you will get 63.4 + 3.6 + 4.98 = 71.98 meters. It’s a real depth of the platform of the station near the exit.

The rail head is 1.1 meters below the platform (it’s a standard), the surface above the station is almost flat, so the real depth of the station (depth of real head on the center of the station) is about 73 meters.

With Russian language Wikipedia giving the following:

Official sources quote different depth for the station: 74 meters, 80 meters, 84 meters, 90 meters. However the sum of the heights of the platform, the slopes of the escalators and the staircases of the lobby does not match these figures.

According to the data published by the metro escalator service, the height of the main escalator is 63.4 meters, and the height of the small escalator in the lobby is 3.6 meters. The turnstile vestibule is connected to the surface by a staircase and an elevator with a height of 4.94 meters. The height of the passenger platform from the level of rail heads is 1.1 meters.

Thus, the depth of the station is 73 meters, as detailed on the Moscow City Planning Policy Department website.


And another escalator titbit

Something I noticed at Park Pobedy was the long stretch of horizontal steps before the escalator commenced the descent.

Long lead in to the longest escalators in Europe

Kone Escalators explains the purpose of these flat steps:

Horizontal (level) steps are required at each landing of an escalator to enable passengers to safely board and disembark the moving step band. They allow passengers to steady themselves and position their feet correctly on the steps before reaching the transition curve into the inclined section. When disembarking, horizontal steps allow passengers to safely step off the moving step before their feet touch the combs

As well as the minimum number of flat steps needed:

The minimum number of horizontal steps at each landing under EN 115-1 is two, for vertical rises up to 6000 mm and step speed below 0.5 m/s.

For greater rises and step band speeds up to 0.65 m/s, three horizontal steps (1200 mm) at each landing are required.

Escalators with a step band speed in excess of 0.65 m/s require a minimum of four horizontal steps (1600 mm) at each landing.

With research suggesting more flat steps results in fewer falls:

It is believed that the number of flat steps at the upper and lower landings has an effect on the risk of falls. They provide the passenger with time to adjust his/her stance prior to the steps forming. The European escalator standard, EN115, requires two flat steps at each landing (three steps where the rise is more than 6 m). Public service escalators are specified with five steps at the upper landing and four steps at the lower landing.

Which makes me I wonder how many other deep metro stations have similar escalators.

Posted in Trains | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Kiev or Kyiv – what to call the Ukrainian capital

During my 2012 trip to Europe the only reason I had for visiting Kiev was to visit Chernobyl, but I ended up loving the city so much I was sad to leave it so soon. But one thing I never realised was the politics behind the name of the city, and Ukraine itself.

Looking down Volodymyrsky Passage to St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery

Is the city called Kiev or Kyiv? Adam Taylor explains in this piece at Business Insider:

You see, from almost the very moment we began writing about Ukraine and the EuroMaidan protests, Ukrainians have been politely e-mailing us, asking us to not write Kiev, but to write Kyiv instead. “Here we say ‘Kyiv’ not ‘Kiev,’” Taras Ilkiv, a Ukrainian journalist who recently wrote an article for Business Insider on the protests, explained in an email, “because ‘Kiev’ is the Russian word.” It’s simple: in Ukrainian, the word for the city is Київ, while in Russian, it reads as Киев.

Transliteration is always a bit of a strange thing, but it’s especially complicated in Ukraine, where roughly one sixth of the population is ethnic Russian, speaking Russian, and another sixth are ethnic Ukrainian, but speak Russian too. Given a history of Russian domination, both during the Soviet period and before, it’s understandable that language has become a big issue in the country.

Which leads to another contentious name – why Ukraine isn’t ‘The Ukraine’. Again Adam Taylor explains:

Chances are if you find yourself talking about the ongoing protests in Kyiv, you’ll slip up and refer to the country in which Kyiv is situated as “the Ukraine.”

It’s an understandable mistake, perhaps — until its independence in 1991, when Ukrainian leaders formally asked the world to drop the “the” and just refer to their country as “Ukraine,” “the Ukraine” was commonly used in English. And many people still default to it — but, to be blunt, it’s totally wrong.

But why did we come to refer to Ukraine as “the Ukraine” in the first place? While there are examples of country names that are preceded by “the,” this is usually only done when the country name refers to a group or a type of political organization — for example, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands.

Ukraine does not fit into this group.

It may seem like a minor detail, but many people are angered by the addition of “the” to Ukraine, arguing that it is being used to help sideline Ukrainian statehood.

You learn something every day – and I’ve got a lot of “the Ukraine” references to remove!

Posted in Everyday life | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Russian level crossings bite back!

As I travelled across Russia by train there was an interesting feature at every level crossing we passed through – massive steel plates that lifted out of the roadway, preventing cars from driving around the boom gates.

These level crossings bite back!

Some level crossings also had a gatehouse located alongside.

Russian Railways staff give the all clear as we pass a level crossing - Воля, Воро́нежская о́бласть (Volya, Voronezh Oblast)

With a gatekeeper on duty.

All clear from this Russian level crossing gatekeeper in the village of Сенцово (Sentsovo)

Ready to wave ‘all clear’ to the train as it passed by.

Yellow paddle for 'all clear' from the level crossing gatekeeper

But even steel plates aren’t enough of a deterrent to some motorists who want to race across the tracks.

And unfortunately they wont protect you if the level crossing suffers a ‘wrong side’ failure, and doesn’t trigger for an approaching train.

Further reading

Ukraine’s ‘railroad ladies’ – in pictures by Sasha Maslov.

Posted in Trains | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

How the TGV has shrunk France

Here is an interesting find – graphs comparing the reductions in travel time to cities across France, thanks to the introduction of the TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse) high-speed rail network.

Crossing between a TGV South-East and a steam train near Montereau (in the territory of the municipality of Saint-Germain-Laval) May 24, 1987
Photo by Didier Duforest, via Wikimedia Commons

Travel times in 1957.

And fifty years later in 2007.

The graphs were created by Anne-Aël Durand and Gary Dagorn using data from the SNCF’s Open Data platform, and were published in the Les Décodeurs section of French newspaper Le Monde as “Comment le TGV a rétréci la France” (How the TGV has shrunk France).

Posted in Trains | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

ОПЭ1 electro-diesel locomotives of the former USSR

An electro-diesel locomotive is a unit that can operate from either an external electric power source, or standalone with an onboard diesel engine, and on the railways of the former USSR is an interesting example – the ОПЭ1 and subsequent developments.

Novocherkassk Electric Locomotive Plant (NEVZ) archives, via Russian Wikipedia

Developed in the 1960s to work on the open cut mine railways of the USSR, electrified with 10 kV AC 50 Hz overhead lines, a ОПЭ1 locomotive can be made up of a mix of four different kinds of unit:

  • electric section (E) featuring a traction transformer, rectifier, pantograph, and driver’s cab.
  • autonomous power supply section (T) featuring a diesel-generator set from a M62 diesel locomotive, and driver’s cab.
  • motor section (M) featuring traction motors on locomotive bogies beneath a side dump freight wagon.
  • motor booster section (M) featuring traction motors beneath a shortened locomotive body.

Which can then be arranged in a variety of ways:

  • Three sections (electric locomotive, diesel locomotive and motor section) – the primary combination of traction units, able to work under overhead wires or autonomously (traction and braking in both modes are created by all 12 traction motors);
  • Two sections (an electric locomotive and diesel locomotive, without motor section) – able to work under overhead wires or autonomously (power from both modes with rheostatic braking by 8 traction motors);
  • One electric locomotive section (electric locomotive, without motor section or diesel locomotive) – work with the train in electric mode (4 traction motors);
  • One diesel section (diesel locomotive, without a motor section or electric locomotive) – powered by a diesel generator (4 traction motors, but no resistive braking provided).

Following the collapse of the USSR production of the ОПЭ1 locomotive slowed, with a total of 417 electric/diesel locomotive combinations, 52 motor dump cars, and 32 traction power boosters manufactured by the time production ended in 2002.

Photo by Вадим Анохин, via Wikimedia Commons

The design was further refined as the ОПЭ1А introduced in the 1970s, which saw the locomotive body shrunk, improving the visibility for the train driver in the reverse direction.

photo by Серёга, via Wikimedia Commons

More photos and video

ОПЭ1 locomotive shunts a rake of side dump wagons.

And related locomotives

The ОПЭ1 design concept was also applied to the ОПЭ2 electric locomotives developed in the 1970s – each features a ‘control’ electric locomotive coupled to two ‘motor dump cars’ to provide extra tractive power.

While American railroads call such locomotives slugs:

A railroad slug is an accessory to a diesel-electric locomotive. It has trucks with traction motors but, unlike a B unit, it cannot generate power on its own since it lacks a prime mover. Instead, the slug is connected to a powered locomotive, called the mother, which provides the needed electrical power to operate the traction motors, and the motor controls.

Which look much the same as the USSR examples already seen.

jpmueller99 via Wikimedia Commons


Posted in Trains | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

A whistle stop tour of Sinaia railway station, Romania

As I travelled across Romania by train, the railway station at the mountain resort of Sinaia in Prahova County caught my eye.

Photo by Andrei Stroe, via Wikimedia Commons

Căile Ferate Române 4-6-0 steam locomotive 230-039 was plinthed outside the station.

CFR steam engine 230-039 plinthed at Sinaia railway station

Along with a 1948 Skoda VOS draisine (inspection railcar), supposedly converted from car once owned by communist leader Ana Pauker.

Ana Pauker's draisine (inspection railcar) plinted at Sinaia railway station

But a memorial plaque on the platform didn’t make much sense until I got home, and could research further.

Memorial plaque at Sinaia railway station in Romania

It read:

În acest loc a fost asasinat I.G. Duca,
președinte al Consiliului de miniștri.
Jertfa iubirei sale de neam și țară.
29 Xll 1933.

Which translates to:

In this place was assassinated IG Duca,
chairman of the Council of Ministers.
The sacrifice of his love for nation and country.
29 December 1933.

The plaque marks the spot where Romanian Prime Minister Ion G. Duca was assassinated by members of the fascist Iron Guard movement in 1933.

Posted in Trains | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

German railfans exploring the world of rail

For many railfans their interest in railways ends at the border of their own country, with little interest in the trains found elsewhere in the world. But it seems that German railfans are an exception to this, being happy to follow trains wherever they run.

Trains everywhere!

I first noticed this when I was looking up the Richards Bay Coal Line in South Africa, and the only Wikipedia page on the subject was in German – nothing in English, and nothing in Afrikaans.

Photo by Pechristener, via Wikimedia Commons

A history of the tramways in Yangon, the largest city in Myanmar – the German language page is three times as long as the English one.

Unknown photographer, via Wikimedia Commons

A track plan for the MTR Light Rail system in Hong Kong – drawn by a German.

MTR Phase I LRV 1029 on route 615 in Yuen Long

As was the track plan for the Hongkong Tramway system.

Hong Kong tram #46 in Wan Chai

But why? Science and technology form a large part of German culture, which presumably combined with a open worldview means a German railfan is more likely to take an interest in the railways elsewhere in the world.


There is a German company called Tanago that runs guided railway photography tours to offbeat locations all over the world.

Posted in Trains, Trams | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Exploring the bizarre world of VDNKh

On the outskirts of Moscow is VDNKh – originally built by an exhibition centre to show off the achievements of the Soviet Union, by the time I visited in 2013 it was a bizarre mix of fairground meets flea market, set amongst a collection of Soviet architecture.

Entrance archway to the All-Russia Exhibition Centre

Established in 1935 as the All-Union Agricultural Exhibition (VSKhV) (Russian: Всесоюзная Сельско-Хозяйственная Выставка; Vsesoyuznaya Selsko-Khozyaystvennaya Vystavka), each pavilion showcased the achievements of a geographical region of the Soviet Union.

The park was further expanded in 1948 when the Soviet Council of Ministers issued a decree ordering a unification of VSKhV with the All-Union Industry Exhibition, which formed today’s Выставка достижений народного хозяйства (ВДНХ) (Vystavka Dostizheniy Narodnogo Khozyaystva (VDNKh)) – literally the “Exhibition of Achievements of National Economy”.

By 1989 the exhibition had expanded to an exhibition area of 700,000 square metres across 82 pavilions, many dedicated to a particular industry or field, but following the collapse of the Soviet Union the exhibitions were closed, replaced by a variety of tenants.

Exploring the pavilions

The centre has a diversity of architecture.

Heading past the Central Pavilion

The original pavilions are of Stalinist style.

Pavilions 58 and 59 - 'Ukraine' and 'Moscow, Tula and Ryazan region'

Some small and understated.

Pavilion 5: 'Latvian SSR'

While others were far grander.

Pavilion of the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic

Some imitated buildings found elsewhere, like those of the resort city of Sochi.

Pavilion 2 'North Caucasus' now taken over by a shark aquarium

And of the Moldavian SSR.

Pavilion 10: 'Moldavian SSR'

But others are modern.

Pavilion 12: 'Trade Unions'

Over the years some pavilions had been renovated.

Pavilion 13: 'Health'

Receiving modernist facades.

Pavilion 15: 'Electronics and Communication'

That hide the original design behind.

Pavilion 14: 'Computer Science'

But today restoration is the order of the day.

Pavilion 18 under restoration: 'Republic of Belarus'

Into the fairground

I visited VDNKh at Christmas time.

Christmas tree outside the main entrance

An ice skating rink occupied the main square.

Ice skating at the All-Russia Exhibition Centre

With pony rides on offer.

Pony rides on offer

And sideshow games.

Pavilion 4: 'Kyrgyzstan' hides in the background

Food stalls.

Sideshows line the main avenue

Kids rides.

Not 'Red Bull' but 'Black Bull'

And a miniature train.

Miniature on-road train to carry shoppers to the far-flung pavilions

Beneath a ferris wheel.

'Moscow-850' Ferris wheel at the All-Russia Exhibition Centre

Then into the pavilions

If you look up on entering the pavilions, the ornate ceilings catch your eye.

Soviet realist paintings inside the pavilion

But look down and it’s a dive.

Retail stores retrofitted into the Central Pavilion

With a rabbit warren of shops occupying what were once grand spaces.

Rabbit warren of stalls down on the ground floor

Need a new remote control?

Need a new remote control?

A cheap watch?

Plenty of watches for sale

Camera equipment?

Selection of camera equipment on sale

A computer mouse?

Computer mice and other peripherals

A spare part for your sewing machine?

Hundreds of spare parts for sewing machines

Binoculars or a magnifying glass?

This stall specialises in binoculars and magnifying glasses

Pet supplies?

Pet supplies for sale in this stall

Or ladies fashion?

Women's fashion stalls inside this pavilion

It’s all here!

And the seedy underbelly

Fishing reels alongside replica pistols that shoot BBs.

Fishing reels alongside replica pistols that shoot BBs

Hunting knifes.

Need a hunting knife?

Tactical torches, stun guns and imitation pistols.

Tactical torches, stun guns and imitation pistols that shoot BBs

And the office for a stun gun manufacturer.

Shop for a stun gun manufacturer

Have you ever seen an odder collection of retailers?

So capitalism won?

Just take a look at the forest of foreign cars beneath the front gate.

Soviet realist architecture - amid a forest of foreign cars

Further reading

Russia Beyond have a piece titled Soviet Era Theme Park that dives deeper into the history of VDNKh.

Since my visit in 2013 the restoration of the park has accelerated, which is covered by The Calvert Journal in Empire state of mind: how do you update a vast Stalinist exhibition space for the present day?

The administration of the park and the Moscow City Government have so far displayed a marked tendency to restore the Exhibition to its condition in 1954, favouring Stalinism over Modernism. In 2014, the facades of two modernist facades were hastily taken down, in defiance of the law.

Russian-language Wikipedia has a list of pavilions and structures at VDNKh, with the history of each pavilion detailed on this interactive park map.

Posted in Tourism | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment