Mr. Lothrop to Mr. Bayard.
St. Petersburg , March 7, 1888. (Received March 26.)
Sir: In pursuance of the instructions of your circular of January 24 last, I applied to the Imperial minister of ways and communications for such information and publications relative to the Russian railways, etc., as he could conveniently furnish. In response thereto he has sent me a large volume, being the statistical collection for 1885–’86 touching the railways and water communication of Russia, and a large and valuable official map of the same.
The volume is in Russian, which will, of course, much impair its value for use in America.
I send to you by mail said volume and the maps, and I also send therewith a copy of the Journal de St. Petersbourg, which contains some interesting suggestions about Russian railways.
The railways in European Russia are in the aggregate about 17,500 miles. Some have been built by the Government, but the greater portion have been built by private corporations, but with Government aid in nearly all cases. This aid has been furnished by Imperial guaranties of the railway securities. The system, as a whole, is far from remunerative, and the Government has to pay annually a large sum on this account, about fifteen millions of rubles, I believe.
For several years there has been but little ne w railway constructed in European Russia—it is said only about 400 miles a year for the last five years—and even this chiefly for strategical purposes.
The great Transcaspian Railway, from the Caspian Sea to Samarcand, is not under the jurisdiction of the ministry of ways and communications. It has been built and is managed by the ministry of war, and if my information is correct it is not likely at present to be of any great commercial value. But for the governmental needs in Central Asia it must be of very great importance.
The financial condition of Russia is such at present that new lines of railway are not favored, and the Imperial aid has been refused for several important projects. Except the completion of work already begun, I think there will be no railway construction this year.
Very truly, etc.,