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Children's Railways of the former USSR – Past and Present

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Postcard, 1950s
The Minsk children's railway named in favor of K.S.Zaslonov
Opened: July 9, 1955
Track-length: 4.5 km (Length of the main line - 3.79 kms)
3 stations: Zaslonovo (before 1971: Park of Culture), Pionerskaya, Sosnovy Bor
Civil Engineering works: 2 level crossings, the bridge across the river, one overbridge.
Rolling stock: diesel locomotives TU7A-2782 and TU2-113, coaches PV51; formerly: steam engines 159-232 and Kp-4-465, diesel locomotive TU2-010
Signalling and communications: automatic locking, electric centralization
Address: Belarus Republic, Minsk, Francisk Skorina prosp., 86
Tel: +375 (17) 264-25-22
General Manager: SIDOROVA Vera Ivanovna
Info: timetable


At the beginning of the 1950s, Byelorussia was not yet in the time of recovery from post-war ruin, but nevertheless the Republic's Administration was already paying special attention to the education of youth. So, the decision to construct the children's railway in Minsk was approved. The Council of Ministers' Decision № 853 of September 30, 1954 on construction of the line allocated funding at a rate of almost 5 million roubles.

This line may be considered to be the second in the republic, as there had been a children's railway in Gomel before World War 2. Construction of the Minsk children's railway began already in the autumn of 1954. Schoolboys from Minsk were involved in building the line; they carried out excavations, painted the office accommodation, dug beds and planted flowers in them, installed trackside signs along the line. In the meantime, future young railwaymen were in organised in circles to study the theoretical aspects of working on the children's railway.

Soon two stations: "Park of Culture" and "Sosnovy Bor" ("Pine Forest") were ready to accept the first passengers. The main station, with the most beautiful building, was "Park of Culture", where the young railwaymen studied, carried out formal proceedings, received visitors etc. This station had a high-level platform. A beautiful wooden building was also erected at the "Sosnovy Bor" station, but unfortunately it was completely destroyed by fire in the 1980s. The main line was about 3.79 km long, and its full operational length was about 4.5 km of track.

On Sunday, July, 9, 1955, hundreds of people with children have come to the formal opening of the children's railway. At the platform of the "Park of Culture" station, a train consisting of six green coaches behind a type-159 steam locomotive, № 232, stands awaiting the signal to depart. And then the First Deputy Minister of Education of Belarus F.Kazakov cuts the scarlet ribbon. Running of trains by the Minsk children's railway began the same day. Only one more station - Pionerskaya (only a small wooden small house formerly stood on the site of Pionerskaya station) was added later.

As well as the steam locomotive 159-232 Minsk ChRW had 6 coaches of construction Stolbtsovsky coaches depot, one freight car and one more steam locomotive Kp-4-465. In 1987, are received new diesel locomotive TU7-2782 (to accompany the diesel locomotive TU2-113 which had arrived by 1969) and 12 type PV51 coaches.

track plan Francisk Skorina prospect Makaenka street Filimonov street

As can be seen in the plan, the line has a shape resembling a dumbbell - at both ends the trains run around terminal loops so that they return to the main line facing the opposite direction. This arrangement was probably adopted in order to avoid the need for constructing reversing triangles or turntables for steam locomotives. On the one hand this configuration reduces the time needed for turning the locomotive around, but on the other it deprives the crew of an opportunity to perform the shunting the locomotive around the train at terminal stations.

The line begins at one entrance to the "Cheluskintsev" park (near to Moskovskaya metro station) and runs through a pine forest in the eastern surburbs of Minsk. At the Sosnovy Bor station it is possible to get off the train to breathe the fresh air and listen to nightingales in the woods. The intermediate station - Pionerskaya - is the line's technical centre, where the locomotives and coaches are stored, repaired and prepared for running. It is the only station on the line that has sufficient track capacity for these purposes.

track plan of Pionerskaya station

The line crosses three highways on its way. The level crossing with the main road to a sports complex, which is located within the neighbourhood of Zaslonova station, is equipped as a nonguarded crossing. The level crossing with Makaenka street (near to Pionerskaya station)is protected. Finally, an overbridge carries Filimonova street above a stretch of the railway. The civil engineering works also include the bridge over the river Slepjanka (part of the Slepjanskaya waterway).

Within one year of opening the road was equipped with an electric-staff system, then that was changed to a semi-automatic block system which since July 23, 1987 has been replaced with electric centralization at stations and automatic locking on the line between them. At the same time, simultaneous operation of two trains with one crossing the other at Pionerskaya station began. In the same year, 1987, major repairs were made to the Zaslonovo station building; its walls and floors were restored using marble and granite. The building at Pionerskaya station was reconstructed and extensively repaired, so that the area of the building having central heating was doubled.

At the end of the 1980s a project for reconstructing the line was prepared. This project envisaged lengthening the line and construction of one more station: the Chudesnaya Melnitsa (Wonderful Mill), with a museum of animation. It was hoped to complete reconstruction in 2000, on the line's 45th anniversary. However, so far the project has proceeded no further than the stage of working drawings.

The Minsk children's railways has always maintained the interest of young railwaymen in its life and it was the winner several years in succession at the All-Union Competition for children's railways! The decision of Council of Ministers BSSR № 79 from 18.03.71 "for successes in education of the rising generation, familiarizing children with engineering and trades of railwaymen" gave the name of the Hero of the Soviet Union, Konstantin Sergeevich Zaslonov, to the Minsk children's railway. In the same year the station "Park of Culture" was renamed as Zaslonovo station.

The Minsk ChRW season begins on 1st May. Trains run on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 11:00 till 14:00; on Sundays from 11:00 till 17:00. Trains depart at intervals of 35 minutes. In the summer period of operation of the line the trains run a total distance of some 3500 km, carrying a total of about 50 thousand passenger journeys.


The following materials were used in preparing this report:
  • materials of the Central museum of a railway transportation (St.Perersburg)
  • materials from A.K.Filippov's and P.A.Strelkov personal archive
  • materials given by V.Sanzharovsky
  • Newsletter "Zheleznodorozhnik Belorussi", April 29, 1999
  • Newsletter "Chastnaya Sobstvennost'" № 25 (222), June 25, 1998
  • Magazine "Locomotive", № 7, 2000

  • Links:
  • Minsk ChRW on the official site of the Belorussian Railways
  • Yandex of quotation
    Rambler's Top100 Service

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