The most important of the new railways is the Siberian, of which the first section, Chelyabinsk to Omsk, was opened in December 1895, and which, except for a short section round Lake Baikal, in 1901 was completed right through to Stryetensk, on the Shilka, the head of navigation on the Shilka and the Amur, 2710 m.
But it was soon found that the cost of the section required to complete the railway between Stryetensk and Khabarovsk, along the Shilka (246 m.) and the Amur (1160 m.), would be enormous, while neither the wild mountainous tracts of the lower Shilka and upper Amur, nor the marshy, often inundated region between Khabarovsk and the Little Khingan mountains, could ever be the seat of a numerous population.
From Lake Baikal the road proceeds to Verkhne-udinsk, Chita and Stryetensk on the Shilka, whence steamers ply to the mouth of the Amur and up the Usuri and Sungacha to Lake Khangka.
Thence the line was continued across the prairies to Kurgan and Omsk, and from there it followed the great Siberian highway to Krasnoyarsk and Irkutsk, and on round Lake Baikal to Chita and Stryetensk on the Shilka.
Steamers ply regularly along the Amur for 62 months, from Khabarovsk to Stryetensk, on the Shilka terminus of the Trans-Siberian railway; but only light steamers with 2 to 3 ft.
The great engineering difficulties in building a railway along the Amur induced the Russian government to obtain from China permission to build a railway through Manchuria, but the project for a railway from Khabarovsk to Stryetensk received imperial sanction in the summer of 1906.