The International Steam Pages

Shcherbinka Depot and Test Track

Harvey Smith was based in and around Moscow off and on from 1997 to 2014 and has now moved to St. Petersburg. Apart from this report he has also posted information on other attractions in Moscow and the rest of Russia, there are links at the bottom of the page.

At the time of writing Shcherbinka is probably not so interesting for a steam buff, but it is worth seeing for the general rail enthusiast. If you have a telephoto lens for your camera or binoculars pack them. You can see all sorts of Russian railway oddities and curiosities, historic diesels, an observation car and the very latest in Russian EMUs and express trains. There is a steam runner Eu 682-87 outside the depot as are the remains of the reserve which are along the north fence to the west bordering the circular test track, all of which which are clearly visible on Google Earth. Russian railways are preparing to plinth a locomotive next to the test track and outside the gate of the depot near the main office/ control building. Gaining access to the depot is easy but illegal. We were politely asked to leave and we did. But the security clearly woke up and as we circled the depot the security was clearly more alert. I say that, “it is always better not to upset the locals”. Maybe one day the railway authorities will have open days at the depot and charge for guided tours. We can but hope.

Brian, who I met through Rob’s international steam pages, and I had a day out in Shcherbinka. Shcherbinka lies directly to the south of Moscow outside the ring road. It is a suburb of Moscow. You will see the test track on Google Earth. It is to the west of the town of Shcherbinka and forms a perfect O on the map. It was on my list and Brian got there first so he acted as my guide. Getting to Shcherbinka is relatively easy. Go to Tsaritsina station on the south eastern part of the green line. There change to the suburban railway. The suburban station is on top of the metro station. The ticket machine was mastered. There was no-one selling tickets and no staff to ask directions from. As you go through the ticket barrier the platform you need is on the right. The next part is a lottery. All suburban trains go through Shcherbinka, but not all stop at Shcherbinka. So Brian and I went to a station 5km south of Shcherbinka and then had to catch another train back up. Fortunately, Brian had GPS on his Windows phone and I had a 1989 map of Moscow (including Shcherbinka), that I found discarded from one of my neighbour’s storage shed. So we coped.

When you get to Shcherbinka the test track and depot are to the west of the main line. Come out the station and bear right towards an 8 storey red and grey office building. There you will find the test track and the loco-less plinth. We found a small compound on the way with some carriages. One was clearly the latest express carriage. 

When you get to the plinth you will see the gate to the depot among some trees on the left as you face the test track. But I would not for one moment suggest that you walk in. It is not necessary. Simply walk down the test track in a clockwise south westerly direction past what I assume is the signal box. You will see the secure fence of the depot on the left. Eventually the reserve will come into view. The embankment of the test tank provides a fine panoramic view of the depot. Binoculars would save a lot of walking and would be the intelligent way to explore the depot.

The full list of the reserve is meant to be, I have indicated with @ those we definitely saw:

EU-699-74 (this is shown active in
9P-19499 @
SO17-3241 @
EM-710- 46 @
EM-725- 68
ER-767-44 @

In addition we could make out 1 EM and 1 ER,

So those 6 locomotives plus the runner EU-682 87 shows that the reserve might have lost at worse only 3 locomotives. 

This is ER-767-44

This is SO17-3241

This is 9P-19499:

But at the end of the day we did not wander around the entire depot. Parts from the 9P-19499 could be used to renovate the 9P-512 at Bolshoi Volga station, Dubna. That locomotive lacks boiler cladding, side tanks and its dome cover. I personally hope that an Er, Em and the SO find their way to the newly reopened Paveletsky museum. This museum has an entire park that could be filled up with outdoor exhibits, we can but hope. If you carry on around the test track you will find the remains of other test tracks that have been ripped up and abandoned. Some even with the rails still in place. Near the southernmost point not far from the west gate of the depot is a viaduct built from various types of bridges, one is concrete, the others are different steel structures.

Fortunately for us the return trip to Moscow went without incident.

Steam locomotives do run at Shcherbinka. This website shows a day when steam locomotives were running,, it appears to have been 3rd August 2008 which the author says is an annual special day..

I was told to go on railway day, so we did on 5th August, but I think railway day in Russia must be the first Sunday in August but there was nothing special laid on and the depot was very quiet.

On 9 September 2012 P36.0031 will be running on the test track and I simply cannot wait to see her...


Rob Dickinson