Kaliningrad 2004 - Day 1
April 29, 2004
The trip started on Polish border station Braniewo. We boarded chartered „Marfusha“ railcar and set on the trip along the Ostbahn towards Kaliningrad. In a short while, we reached Russian station of Mamonovo (Heiligenbeil), beautifully rebuilt recently. They let us go without much bureaucracy and we continued to Golubievo (Seepothen). The line is double-track, trains can run both along a broad and a standard gauge. In Golubievo, the standard-gauge track turns East to station „O.p. 5 km“ (O.p. = ostanovochnyi punkt = train stop; some stations in the former USSR simply do not have any better name), where it merges with an unused standard-gauge track from G³omno, Poland. The train took us to Bagrationovsk (Pr Eylau), last station before Polish border. From there, we returned back through O.p. 5 km to Golubyevo and carried on to Kaliningrad. Accommodation was arranged in Hotel Deima in a suburb.
A Russian guide was with us all the way, answering our questions regarding the past and present of this region. Kaliningrad Region is both the most western and the smallest region of Russia. About a million people live here, of which about half in Kaliningrad. Wife of President Putin was also born here. The region is home to people from 107 ethnic groups from around the former USSR. There are also several thousand Germans - however, these are mainly relocated Germans from around the Volga and other areas of Russia. Only a few hundred original inhabitants remained here after the war. In most cases, these were women, who got married to Soviet soldiers. The economic situation is currently not easy. Most goods have to be imported through Lithuania and so the prices are higher than in the rest of Russia. Popular opinion is split regarding the entry of the neighbouring countries to the EU. Some are worried of isolation, others expect new economic opportunities from wealthier neighbours.
Railroad curiosities (historical map):
© Jan Pešula, 2005