Departure to Siberia
It's departure day for the Trans-Mongolian. Yaroslavsky Railway Station, the rail gateway from Moscow to Siberia, is, like stations anywhere, a magnet for vagrants and the security staff are kept busy. As I arrive, they are evicting a man, who shouts at them saying he wants to see a member of the police. Which one, asks the guard, as he pushes him out the door.
Departure is at 23.55. In Russia, that usually means exactly on time. The train draws into the station about 45 minutes beforehand. I wonder where it’s been in the interim. Is there a parking lot for trains somewhere. This Wednesday service is operated by Mongolian Railways (the only other service across Mongolia at this time on the year is run by Chinese Railways and departs on Tuesdays, running all the way to Beijing). The wagon attendants are turned out elegantly in dark blue coats with gold trim. None speak English, and few speak any Russian. After about 15 minutes, the train crosses the MKAD, the Moscow circular road, and is officially out of the city. We head south-east, towards Siberia.