The Kazan Ekaterinburg error

Posted: September 2, 2013 in Rus Mod

After having checked many maps, I may confirm Orel: the Kazan/Ekaterinburg railway wasn’t existing during the RCW.


This map isn’t very readable and has its share of errors, but other sources are converging to consider this line to be yet to achieve in 1918.

The presence in RUS of this line has very important and nasty conséquences, because it creates a third axis of advance between the Ufa/Saara and Ekaterinburg/Perm divergent axis. It allows Siberian then Reds to advance at high speed between Kazan and Ekaterinburg. I’ve been interrogating myself why Whites seized Kazan during Summer 18 and let this city in a bling spot a few months later during the Kolchak advance. The reponse is in the removal of this line. Kazan was captured during Summer by a fluvial operation, never a railroad driven one, as the fixed map will show.

  1. Orel says:

    Not exactly: the Ekaterinburg-Kazan railroad was completed in 1920: According to Zheleznyak’s sources: both Whites and Reds each from their side would build this railroad. Right now, what it seems it has been agreed upon(not sure yet) that the railroad connected areas between Krasnoufimsk and Sarapul should be marked down as damaged railroads. That way, the railroad could be built by 1920 as in history, and will not exist at the beginning of a campaign.

    And surprisingly enough, this was not just RUS’s mistake: this railroad is marked down on some of the Soviet military maps concerning the Perm operation of Pepeliaev that occurred in December 1918.

    • Clovis says:

      That’s why the main principle for real historical research is to check and compare as many sources as possible, as some may be faulty, even the ones seeming the best. And 2 boardgames have avoided this error.

      Now, the construction in 1920: first I’m not sure it should be an event belonging to the Civil War. 1920 was in Urals the beginning of reconstruction and Bolsheviks spent a lot of money to rebuild as soon as possible the rail system. I’m not sure they could have done the same with a war not confined to the West, and especially mainly against Poland and Wrangel, the latter being no more less than the shadow in strenght of the Volunteer Army of 1919.

      Secondly, marking as damaged railroad a portion will imo not work: the cost of rail reparation is very low, and can’t be modded. So any player will just repair the rails in 1920, whatever the situation. Better use an option based on the ChangeTransport command. I’m myself thinking about, as I’ve read a few days ago your discussion about this portion, but nothing written in stone yet, for the reason I mentionned above. Even if some work would have been done in 1919 by White and Reds, the fact is they couldn’t achieve the line: the best clue it was beyond their possibility in full war stretch.

      • Clovis says:

        From the figures I’ve got, the number of rail kilometer buit in 1919 was…71 and in 1920 197.
        The Kazan/Ekaterinburg was completed only in 1924, a time span imho much more plausible than 1920.

        My source on this is an article published in 1947:

        Edward Ames

        American Slavic and East European Review
        Vol. 6, No. 3/4 (Dec., 1947), pp. 57-74

  2. Orel says:

    I may have found a good source on the matter: (in Russian)

    According to the information presented there, the Kazan-Ekaterinburg railroad was in the process of construction since 1910, and was supposed to be completed in May 1917. But due to the revolutions, the construction was delayed. But even then, the majority of the hardest parts were already complete(such as tunnels and bridges) so the railroad was close to being finished. In the RCW, the Whites and Reds each from their side continued its construction, according to the testimony from the Red side, the Whites laid 200km worth of rails plus something above that was done by the Reds. Then, when the Whites retreated they damaged the railroad and the buildings necessary for its successful operation.

    During the Fall of 1919, the Reds examined the railroad and found it damaged too severely to be usable. In February they began to repair the railroad and on the 1st of July the first train went from Kazan to Ekaterinburg. There was regular movement along this road from that time. But, in 1923 the Reds examined the possibility to close down the road altogether and take it apart: but a large financial contribution aiming at the modernization of it was given in 1924 allowing it to continue to be in service.

    • Clovis says:

      Read this article ( BTW, Bing translation is a bit better than Google translate).

      Very interesting articles. Now, twenty years back, when I was really an historian, doing real researches? I’ve learned to take input from local researchers with a grain of salt, as their passion provides us invaluable infos but are more than often inclined to exxagerate a bit the reality. If some trains travelled fro 1920 from Kazan to Ekaterinburg, I’m yet a bit skeptical about the regularity of such a service, as Communists were considering to close the railways given its very poor state. The 800 millions Rubles investments made in mid 20 tells for me a lot on the fact it was more a rebuild than a reparation.

      The AGE system is an all or nohing for railways: a line may support in one turn as many trains as the player pushes forward. That’s why the decision to create this line during gameplay will be as unbalanced than cancelling any construction.

      So, in accordance with FY philosophy,I’m going to build a sort double sided feature:

      – the line from Kazan will stop at Sarapul at the start of the game. Both factions will be allowed by option to achieve the line, subdivided in 2 fractions ( necessary to portray partial efforts to build the line). The cost in money and WSU will be high, with a twist: a cost will be paid each turn, and the duration of construction will be randomized, from 3 to 7 turns: so the player will ignore the total cost of the line; this randomization will reflect in a very abstract way the great difficulty to get a high level traffic. Last, events disabling the line and forcing to repair rail ( same rules than for destroyed rails) should maintain the efficiency of the line under normal level.

      • Orel says:

        The general approach is often correct but I doubt that this is the case. This is because of a couple of reasons:

        1. The article is very detailed, and the whole picture it creates in the mind is quite concrete. For example, it explains that the railroad was close to completion in 1917, that explains why it became possible for work on it to occur in the RCW.
        2. As the author says, the railroad was improved during the RCW by both sides: but the Whites during their retreat from the area damaged everything they could, which to the railroad becoming not operational.
        3. The Reds repaired and restored the railroad: they did not make it from scratch, as it says much of the damage was to the railway infrastructure and not as much to the rails themselves.
        4. Once the Reds repaired the railroad, on July 1 1920 the first train passed through it. Then it says that “Though regular movement between Moscow and Ekaterinburg began, the situation of the railroad was very troublesome.” So, there was regular movement along this railroad, it was not just a single train.
        5. The 800 million rubles were used not just on the railroad: but on the government program that took care of all railways under the control of the Reds.

        What you are offering is fine with me, if you would not mind(and if it will work for regular RUS) please share those files with me once they are finished and working.

      • Clovis says:

        I concur with you, this article is very sound. Now a bit more détails about the number of trains, the numbers of cars, the freight transported would have allowed me to discard any doubts on this piece of research. However, the most important point remains line opened in 1920 and had very poor quality, so all in all, until other input emerges, I’m rather satisfied with my system. You will get the options and events system I will write during the next days, with the gfx. I’ve not forgotten to give you the files I’ve done, but, unless you need them urgently, I prefer yet to polish a bit them and add the next lines. The gfx files will be usable by any. On the contrary, events and options will be usable only in non commercial products, like your mod. The distinction may seem a bit obtuse, I know. However, as much my gfx files have no value, my Scripting work represents for me a big investment, like any intellectual project,not in time or resource, but in pride :-). That’s why I wouldn’t see some of these scripts integrated in commercial products. I ‘m sure AGEOD hasn’t the slightest intention to do so, but after all smartness is sometimes to prepare to the worst, even in vain.

  3. lexxsvarg says:

    In war communism-centralized distribution of products, materials and labour – cost measured not in terms of money. There are soldiers, there are materials to build the railroad, though even the light railway track.
    The availability of labor, food, fuel, and materials.

    • Clovis says:

      On the one hand, crucially, a large proportion of the gold reserve was
      Assigned for purchasing imports. Thé NKVT was allocated 100million
      gold rubles on 13 February for its 1920 expenditure programme, and
      on 16 March Sovnarkom formally released an additional 300 million
      gold rubles specifically for ‘locomotives and spare parts for the repair
      Of railway transport’, the latter decision living Krasin the opportunity
      to begin to realise the railway modernisation dream with the imports

      Anthony Heywood , Modernizing Lenin’s Russie economy

  4. lexxsvarg says:

    These money resources relate to external trade, i.e., the acquisition of scarce resources, materiel abroad – something that cannot be created here and now.
    Work on the railway line is not measured in money and not being paid for work of engineers and workers. Directly in the USSR in the period of “war communism” was not of commodity-money relations. Anti-crisis measure for civil war.

    • Clovis says:

      Without this foreign import, the railroad system would have completely stalled. And anyway, I’m working on a game engine where the resources are WSU and money. 🙂 We could discuss at length about myths and realities of war communism, especially on the role of money and its equivalent in a barterized internal market, but the main point is yet for me to use a generic game engine to give an abstract, easy and with sufficient realistic acumen of the RCW 🙂 I’m no more an historian since 15 years, and for now I’m just trying to design a game 🙂

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